–by Kelly Sanderbeck, Annual Fund Manager & Story Catcher
More news of chemicals and viruses in our food, water and air, can definitely take the wind out of your sails at times. It’s no wonder more of us are growing our own food and wanting to know our farmers directly.
It’s disheartening, though, when a growing population is pushing farmers to apply more chemicals to crops, hoping to increase yields. According to the EPA, “more than 50 percent of rivers, streams, and lakes and nearly 60 percent of bays and estuaries are impaired because of excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.” And in a new report, the Environmental Working Group says: “The only solution to preserve clean water is to tackle the problem of polluted agricultural runoff at the source.” Another study from UC Berkeley shows that increased fertilizer use over the past 50 years is responsible for a dramatic rise in atmospheric nitrous oxide, which is a major greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change.
But steady push-back is happening. The FDA recently banned antibiotics for animal use except with a prescription, after more than three decades of trying to protect public health.
In other uplifting news, WSU received a $5 million gift to expand their Organic Farming Program in April! This will support the need to replace current farmers who are aging and starting to retire, as publicly recognized by the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. These broad policies as well as on-the-ground work done by the Trust and other organizations will hopefully bridge the gap between those new farmers and getting them on the land to grow us food!
So, keep buying your organics and visiting farmers markets. Since more than 9 out of 10 Americans across the political spectrum support labeling GMO food, farmers hope organics will receive a boost in sales. Direct marketing to consumers is increasingly offering farmers a way to become more profitable and stay in business, and the next wave of the National Organic Program just may be Food Justice Certification, ensuring that workers on organic farms are able to afford the food they’re helping to produce. Onward!
One day at a time – this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone: and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
-Ida Scott Taylor