Industrial Farming has been the dogma America has lived by for about the past 60 years now. This principle has caused several problems with the environment we now live in. These problems range from increased greenhouse gases to overuse of water to excess nitrogen. The solution to this problem is to start practicing sustainable agriculture. Sustainable farming is to practice farming within the means of land that is being farmed. The hardship that this movement is facing is gaining support for the movement and informing the public. However, this task has become easier in recent years because of social media websites such as Twitter.
There are several major problems with our current food system right now. The biggest problem of our food system is land transformation. Land transformation destroys natural habitats, changes the climate, and produces mass amounts of greenhouse gasses. Second, our monoculture or single crop style of farming has eliminated the biodiversity of the land and eradicated most of the top soil in places such as the Mid West in America. The use of monoculture also weakens the natural ability of animals and plants to fight diseases, because they can’t rely on each other for natural protection. Third, the overuse of industrial fertilizer made from fossil fuels has increased green house emissions and caused excess nitrogen to run off into our rivers and oceans. The runoff then creates dead zones at the mouths of hundreds of rivers around the world. Sustainable farming can fix all of these problems, because it uses the Earth’s natural ability to eliminate disease, fertilize the land, and provide more food than monoculture farming. If managed correctly, sustainable farms produce more per acre than an industrial farm, because of the biodiversity of each acre of farmed land.
There are many organizations where you can learn about these practices. There are four different groups I follow on Twitter that pertain to sustainable farming or sustainable agriculture. The first group I followed is called Civil Eats which according to their page is, “A site that promotes critical thought about sustainable agriculture and food systems as part of building economically and socially just communities.” Another group I’m following is First which, according to its twitter bio says, “Farming First is a global coalition calling on world leaders to increase agricultural output in a sustainable and socially responsible manner.” A third group I’m following is Farm Forward, which is run by Ben Goldsmith. Also according to its bio on Twitter, “Farm Forward works to promote conscientious food choices, reduce farm animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture.” The final group I decided to follow on Twitter is Earth Eats. Which, according to its bio is a, “Podcast, public radio program and blog from @wfiu. Tweets about local food, food safety, policy, sustainable agriculture, environmental news and recipes.”
Civil Eats is an organization that generally informs people of the politics of sustainable farming. For example there’s a tweet that talks about meat reform, “Now on Civil Eats: Killin the Competition: Meat Industry Reform Takes a Blow.” More recently, the page has been focusing on the Occupy Wall Street movement. More specifically, the Occupy the Food System part of the Occupy Wall Street movement (http://civileats.com/2011/12/12/occupy-the-food-system/). Farming First’s page (https://twitter.com/#!/farmingfirst ) has tweets that focus on the future of sustainable farming and where in the world it’s possible to improve. For example, “New post: How to build the resilience of African smallholder farmers in a changing climate.” Farm Forward (https://twitter.com/#!/FarmForward ) is a Twitter page run by Ben Goldsmith. His page mostly focuses on happenings in the food world. For example, “Caught On Tape: McDonald’s fires its egg supplier after undercover video reveals farm cruelty and food safety concerns.” Lastly, Earth Eats (https://twitter.com/#!/eartheats ) uses its page to inform people about different ways to practice sustainable eating habits for if you aren’t a farmer. For example, “Who needs a yard: Container garden sightings in Philadelphia http://bit.ly/rsjRdp” or, “12 great winter #beers you have to try: http://bit.ly/tsFfuY.”
All these twitter pages have websites behind them devoted to the practice of sustainable farming. Each one provides a place to learn and to help implement sustainable farming practices. They also help with bringing awareness to the movement. For example, Earth Eats’ Twitter page has almost 100,000 followers! Also Civil Eats helped bring awareness of the impossibility of industrial farming to Wall Street through Twitter. All this education and the organization of these events would have been much harder had it not been for social media.