Always pick farm fresh
As time continues on, the issue of food shortages and world hunger worsen. Especially in developing countries, it is imperative that they can grow and maintain their own crops. The key is sustainable crops and being as friendly to the environment as possible. The debate of genetically modified organisms and crops have been an issue since the beginning of biotechnology and it still is. GMOs have been very helpful in some cases and seem like a better alternative to local and homegrown farm products, but many harmful side effects of genetically modified crops and organisms can arise. To prevent contamination, insect resistance, sickness and to promote crop diversity, good farming practices, and nutritious produce, we must turn to local organic food because permaculture is the essence of sustainable and ecologically friendly farming.
Through our studies in the Summit to Sea program, many issues have been brought up in the ensuing adventures around Hawaii. Saving the environment doesn’t have to be extremely difficult if everyone does their part. It isn’t that hard to do small things that help the Earth. These things could be energy conservation such as turning off the lights or cutting back on the AC. It could be water conservation by turning off the water when brushing your teeth or taking shorter showers. But one of the biggest issues that caught my attention was GMO food vs organic and local food. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified crops (GMCs) are dangerous to the environment and it is necessary that everyone knows the risks of them.
In this program we got the opportunity to visit different places around Hawaii and have people teach us about certain things within the environment. One of the most memorable experiences was visiting the Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture (HIP Agriculture) and touring the farm with Dash. Talking and learning about sustainable ways of growing food and being friendly to the environment while doing so revealed something to me I had never thought about before. Dash’s passion and his ways of gardening and farming inspired me to want to make change in my own community. Portland, Oregon, where I come from, is already a very environmentally friendly city but there is always work to do. Starting at my school, I wish to see how much of the cafeteria food is local and organic, and if it isn’t, try to change that. I also plan to do several activities at my house such as start a compost and encourage others to do so as well. I plan to buy and have my parents buy organic and local food in order to support the farms.
With GMOs and GMCs, the cons greatly outweigh the pros. Although GMOs are cheaper and are modified to have a greater yield, the effects they bring to the environment are extremely devastating. Already the use of the transgenic crops increased 20 fold in the past six years and from 3 million hectares (10,000 square meters) to 44.2 million hectares. It causes resistance in weeds, insects and bacteria to pesticides. These large corporations that use GMOs are taking away from the local farms and putting them out of business. Contamination occurs often and it affects plant diversity. The seeds will travel and land in the organic farms which can strip local farmers of their certifications which costs lots of money. Pesticides used in the GMOs are also running into the land and ending up in the water supply. It is making people sick because the pesticides are not natural. Alternatively, there are many reasons to buy from the local farms. Some include because the money spent supports the local farms and small businesses that produce the local food which contains jobs and continues the practice of farming fresh food. The food is picked at the right time of the season so it also means the food contains the maximum amount of nutrients. Local food benefits the environment and it promotes a safer food supply because there is less risk of contamination through transportation. Lastly there’s more knowledge about the food, how it was grown, where it came from, and who grew it.
Although buying from organic and local farms is the best when purchasing food, the closest and freshest food is always in your backyard garden. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to get organic and fresh produce. When gardening, it is also best to use compost. Creating a compost bin is very friendly to the environment because it doesn’t use harmful fertilizers or require an intense amount of labor and time. It reuses natural food waste to help grow more food. At my house I plan to use a compost bin to recycle my food scraps and use it for the garden we have in our backyard. When saving the environment, all it takes are conscientious decisions, the right choices and a positive mental attitude.
Written by Brenden Murphy from Portland, Oregon.