Our Unsustainable Agriculture System

rising sun

The dearth of real food (and real farming)

This morning on the radio they were discussing the threatened CP Rail lockout. For me, it highlighted our completely unsustainable agriculture system. The people interviewed were worried about getting fertilizer and seed, both things that farmers would not need to buy in the past.

Almost all cash crops are now grown from genetically modified seed that has to be purchased: https://thecounter.org/cash-crops-genetically-engineered…/ (U.S. figures, but I’m sure that Canada’s aren’t much different) and farmers are not allowed to save their own seed. The fertilizer used is synthetic: https://farmforum.ca/…/high-fertilizer-prices-explained/. This is leading to a totally unsustainable food system.

In the past, soil fertility would be a priority. Farmers would use various methods such as crop rotation, cover crops, mixed crops, hedgerows and minimum tillage to maintain and increase fertility. They also allowed some fields to go fallow every year. They saved their own seed, just as I do for some of the things I grow, thus saving money and choosing seed from the best of the crop each year.

It must now be very boring to be a farmer around here, growing either GM soy beans or corn in rotation. Most of those two crops are destined to feed animals who will soon be killed. The rest goes into unhealthy processed foods. Every year, for the almost 24 years that I’ve lived here, I go past the same fields growing one or the other – that’s all they grow, year after year after year!

No big farms around me are organically growing anything, certainly not vegetables, grain, legumes or fruit for human consumption. There was one farmer sort of near me who offered non-GM corn and the most beautiful assortment of other veggies – but he retired a few years ago. At the closest farmers’ market, there are a couple of mini farm organic growers, which is good. Sadly, none are offering grain or legumes or many things I can’t grow myself in my small gardens. However, I know of one couple recently moved nearby who now offer organic oats, and they hope to soon offer some ‘ancient’ grain flours. A definite positive step!

I wish that things would change, but I doubt that there’s much chance of that happening.

To end on a happier note: Yesterday was sunny and warm! I spent a couple of hours out back basking in the sunshine. The snow and ice are melting quickly and before we know it, it’ll be gardening season!


4 Replies to “Our Unsustainable Agriculture System”

  1. I’m so sorry that the drought is still that bad, a “mega” drought indeed. I remember you were losing trees years ago when I still had my Etsy shops. It’s raining here now. I wish I could send lots and lots of it to you. Please give my regards to the rest of the gang who are still there.

  2. Unfortunately, the mega drought continues here. We have lost so many trees and shrubs in the past decade and no longer plant the kind of vegetable gardens we used to. However, many tomato plants can get by on little water, as long as heavily mulched and partly protected from the sun.

  3. You’re making me envious, Marc. I must admit, though, if we had no seasons I’d miss them. However, I’d be thrilled if winter lasted a month and a half. I’m harvesting nothing but snow and ice right now, but they’re both disappearing very quickly. There was more snow this year than we’ve been used to for a long time. Wow with your sungolds! I’ll be starting my tomatoes indoors in a couple of weeks. No seeding in the ground for probably another two months. Wishing you a summer with no catastrophic weather related events.

  4. Very true, Jane. The best vegetables come from the seeds we save our selves, from the best of the previous year. It’s always gardening season here and the first of the tomatoes are about ready to go into the ground. Currently harvesting arugula, Italian parsley, cilantro and the last of last years sungolds still puts out a few tiny tomatoes every few days.
    Wishing you a great gardening season.

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