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Environment and Sustainability: What place does it Have Within Our Food System

By Noah Duguma

The issue of sustainability in today’s food system is often one that is swept under the rug by larger agricultural corporations. Most of the world’s agricultural fields are dominated by massive conglomerates that only care about profits rather than the Earth. As a result, the quality of the world’s topsoil has taken a significant downturn in quality, around forty percent of the water used by farmers is lost due to inefficient irrigation methods, and agricultural products contribute to thirty-three percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

It is unfortunate that at this point in time our food system is incredibly unsustainable because we are grappling with the most complicated existential threat our species has ever seen: climate change. If we don’t radically change our relationship to food, but most importantly our environment, then the Earth will force us to change our mentality.

With our current environmental situation, sustainability must occupy the forefront of every farmer’s and company’s decision making. Adequate funding and education must be made available to individual farmers who do not have the funds to transition into sustainable agriculture. The transition into sustainable agriculture involves multiple moving parts that all have to be brought to a common standard such as soil health, pesticide and fertilizer elimination, and erosion control.

While you might be reading this and think “oh criminy, we’re really screwed”, fret not, for our individual actions can have an outsized impact. As people, we have to do the best we can given our current circumstances, thus one’s finances or position in life dictates how much we can really do. For example, if one has the finances to support local, organic growers who always keep sustainability in mind, that is an incredible thing to do. Concerted efforts, no matter how big or small, will put enough pressure on governmental bodies and companies alike to deliver on making the food industry more sustainable.

We are racing against the climate change clock and there are innumerable complex food sustainability quandaries to tackle. However, with the right amount of determination and human grit, the changes that we and the earth desire will be achieved.

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