When we think about where our food is grown, perhaps we conjure up bucolic scenes of farmers diligently working their fields or maybe we see morose images of industrial farming landscapes. What we don’t think about is what was growing on that land before our dinner. Thirty five percent of Earth’s ice-free land has been cleared for agriculture. That space once provided habitats for native plants and animals. Sadly, habitat loss is the number one cause of species extinctions around the world.
It gets even more complicated. Prefer eating organic? Organic farming is only about 80% as productive per square foot of land as a conventional farming (see Scientific American Article). This means that 20% more land is needed to feed the same number of people with organic farming compared to conventional methods.
What is a person to do? There are numerous other good reasons to purchase organic food. Plus, organic or not, everyone needs to eat.
As a start, reduce the agricultural footprint you are supporting elsewhere by making the best use of the space you take up at home. Grow vegetables in your yard. Have some herbs in your window sill. Little things add up. If you don’t have time to plant a garden, sign your yard up for MyCityGardens and find a neighbor who wants to make better use of your space. -Sorry for the shameless pitch. Species conservation is one of the many issues that motivated us to get mycitygardens going.
Check out this interesting article on organic food production in Scientific America that includes a discussion about farming and wild spaces.