This week was an eye-opener that's for sure. Have you ever experienced a moment that shifts your view of the world, whole-heartedly? I have had it happen a handful of times.
These events include life moments that feel monumental and can include the smaller moments like watching a documentary or perhaps even reading a new scientific journal publication. These moments cause my paradigm to shift, meaning that my metric, my usual way for measuring things, needs to change too.
I began a new class in school this week called Nutrition and the Environment. Sounds pretty interesting, eh? Well perhaps not to you but for me it certainly is. Our professor is so passionate and knowledgeable that you can’t help but be sucked into the content she is teaching. She prefaced the class by stating this would be the most depressing class we will take during this holistic nutrition program... What a way to set the tone for a class.
However, she was right, the content completely mangled my mind, and we are only one week into the class. It is heart heavy material and I know better than to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. The world is too heavy and I cannot change what has already been done. I can only control my choices and educate those around me so that they too can make better choices.
For those of you who may read this, I begin with you, in hopes of further educating you and perhaps persuading you to make a change. If you choose to disregard this, that is your choice.
So what is this content that I am talking about? Well to just break the surface, we discussed soil. You might be thinking, wow, okay soil… cool topic. That's initially what I thought too but then when you understand the importance of healthy soil and how a huge part of the world is reliant on it, you can't help but have your ears perk up.
Soil degradation is vastly occurring and what that means is that the nutrients and vitamins are getting stripped out of the soil. This makes it harder to yield crops, and the crops that do pop up are less rich in these essential micro-nutrients that animals (yes, including us) need to function optimally. This is occurring because of monocropping, that is where farmers specialize in one type of crop.
This erodes the soil fast, meaning farmers need to move on to other plots of land to utilize fresh more healthy soil. Leaving behind soil that is near dead, it lacks nutrients and cannot produce any more crops. In turn, this is causing deforestation. To demonstrate this let's look at the Amazon rain forest in Brazil and Peru. Seventy percent of the Amazon is occupied by pastures for cattle farming and cattle feed farming. Look at the Palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia, they plant palms, use the soil until it can no longer produce palm trees/oil and they move on, cutting down more trees to plant more palm trees. These are just a few examples of monocropping in our world.
It is a cycle, right? So the entire picture is a lot more interconnected than that. Meaning that the soil is definitely impacted but it is not the other living thing impacted. Many other natural resources we as a species, we as an animal, we as “all living things on earth,” absolutely depend on for life. This includes the quality of water and air; both get more polluted as more things are added into our eroding to soil. This pollution occurs because of run off and our water evaporating into our atmosphere.
Then of course look at the impact it has on the land. Seventy percent of the world’s agricultural land is used for livestock productivity. When look even deeper at this reveals that 60% of that amount is used for beef alone. This includes grazing and feed crop production for the animals that we eat... These numbers are to exemplify how much monocropping we actually do on the worlds surface area.
See what I mean about it being complicated? I am just breaking the surface here. Allegedly, monocropping was introduced after the World War’s to help reduce famine but then it got out of hand. Especially in regards to quality and diversity of food species.
We talk about animal extinction but we don't talk much about plant extinction. Monocropping has dominated the field, causing a lot of heirloom fruits and vegetables to die out. To demonstrate this, did you know that less than 200 years ago we had over 7,000 different species of apples on this planet?
Currently, we have less than 100 different variations but more often than not only about 12 species are readily available in the grocery store. You have to seek out different sources to get your hands on an heirloom variety of apples. Additionally, once these species are gone, they are gone forever, we will not get these tasty little guys back. Insane, right? This just illustrates the lack of diversity among our food due to monocropping.
I now know what it is I need to do to help do my part. The best we can all do to help reduce mono-cropping is to pay attention as the consumer. When you are at the grocery store you are voting with every purchase made. Try to source your food from local farmers, helping to promote your economy, support your farmers and encourage proper farming techniques to improve the quality of these non-renewable and renewable resources we are dependent upon for survival! We need nutrients, the entire cycle of life needs nutrients to not only survive but to thrive.