There has been a shift in how the public views our food industry and its operations. As a result, items such as “meatless” burgers are becoming more commonplace in even the most traditional fast food establishments. However, there’s a case to be made that giving up on meat altogether is far too radical a move. To come up with better and less intrusive alternatives, we must examine why modern agriculture is so detrimental to our environment.
Soil quality is an essential feature required for modern agriculture. Our soil quality worsens with each generation, largely due to grazing. The way we feed our animals had led to this change in soil quality. We must seriously reconsider our grazing methods, and how to help our soil recover in the years ahead.
Healthy groundwater is another essential resource for any farm, one that is now in short supply. Groundwater is being depleted faster than it can be replenished–at this point, we are using around 1.3 trillion gallons a year. Our best course of action is to conserve water and find ways to rely less on groundwater. This can only be accomplished by educating farmers and imposing new rules concerning groundwater usage.
While groundwater is being depleted, there are other issues at play. Water pollution is a common byproduct of industrial farming: the source of most of our meat and produce. We must try to scale back on the use of industrial farms, focusing more on holistic and environmentally-friendly homesteads. Such a transition is possible but will take time and effort to complete effectively.
The use of pesticides is among our most glaring problems and one of the most difficult issues to tackle. There is a large business interest in pesticide use, making it difficult for the little guy to battle them, both in the markets and the courts.
According to the EPA, glyphosate is sprayed on more than seventy different food crops, including corn, soy, canola and wheat. It is essential that farmers and everyday consumers are aware of these practices, to affect change.
There are objective problems with agriculture itself, but many are closely tied to economic and social issues. Families and communities rely on this type of work, making change difficult. Some of these matters are tied to public policy as well, requiring the action of political bodies as well as farmers.
Amid the talk of giving up meat altogether, there is a sign that new approaches to agriculture are taking shape. The key is to make an alliance between those who care about the environment, and the farmers themselves. This means that both farmers and vegetarian activists must compromise on their respective stances. The overall impact of their activism will become more powerful as a result.