By Melody Meyer
On April 22, 1970, the Earth took center stage as twenty million souls took to the streets in defense of the natural world. The rally cry was for clean air, water and soil, a society that protected the wondrously biodiverse planet we call home. Forty-seven years later, the earth is a cleaner albeit hotter orb and organic farmers play a crucial role in protecting the planet's future.
It is no small coincidence that in the years following that first Earth Day, organic agriculture took root in many a young agrarian mind. Farmers and would-be gardeners realized that the reliance on an ever-increasing array of toxic inputs was endangering our health and our planet for many generations to come. Organic methods represented a different path, one that worked in harmony with nature and built up rather than tore down the natural order. Organic producers are the stewards of the earth with every compost pile, cover crop and fertile soil.
Some say agriculture may have been the original fall from grace: -- the day we first picked up a tool and cut into the earth and planted a seed. We burned grasslands, felled trees and domesticated beasts for our bidding. Civilizations flourished, populations boomed, and our sophisticated means to conquer nature knew no bounds. Evolving technologies, pesticides, synthetic nitrates and the industrialization of agriculture ushered in the green revolution. It promised exponential yields to feed a growing population. The revolution came at great expense to human health and the environment. Organic farming offers the promise to restore and reverse these errant trends.
Organic producers protect human health with every crop.
With the rise of modern industrialized agriculture, few people are now untouched by pesticide exposure. Every day we are exposed through our food, water, air, and direct contact. This daily onslaught has been linked to cancers, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, hormone disruption, developmental disorders, sterility, memory loss, reduced visual ability and reduced motor skills. It’s no wonder that asthma, allergies and hypersensitivity are all on the rise.
Organic growers protect the environment and the entire ecological system on which food production depends. Pesticides can persist in the environment for decades, contaminating surrounding soils and water sources, causing loss of biodiversity and destroying beneficial insect populations that act as natural enemies of pests.
Organic producers work in harmony with nature protecting the biodiversity of our planet. There are no neonicotinoids collapsing bee colonies and other pollinators. Spraying Round-Up is forbidden and thus the natural flora flourishes, creating beneficial wildlife habitats. Fish, frogs, birds and butterflies all prosper in and around the organic farm.
Protecting our health and the environment are the themes we celebrate on Earth Day. An organic farmer lives and breathes them every day.
Agriculture has a significant place in protecting us from the calamity of climate change and egregious environmental degradation. Intrepid organic producers are taking us one step closer to a healthier world with each harvest.
Let’s celebrate organic producers this Earth Day!