It has only been a couple of generations since the full scale take over of industrial agriculture. With the promise of abundance and the hope of feeding the world people and farmers the world over bought into synthetic fertilizers and the companies they put their trust into. It was our grandparents,or maybe our great grandparents, who’s farms and gardens laid virgin to the touch of a chemical fertilizer. What time is showing is that maybe this hope for a new chemical reality isn’t necessarily the Eden we once thought, or were convinced to think, it was.
The balance of mother nature and her ability to breakdown the elements is a fragile one. Concentrated nutrient blends, heavy salt fertilizers and genetically modified organisms are giving Mother Nature a run for her money. Concentrated blends demand high levels of mining and laboratory synthesizing. They break down and kill the beneficial life that exists in the soil and deem the earth that they are applied to as an empty, even toxic, growing medium. Heavy salt fertilizers poison the very land that they promised hope to. GMO’s challenge the ecosystem to exist in a reality that never before has been experienced. Evolutionary processes take time and the ecosystems both in our bodies and in the land have time to adapt. GMO’s have changed the playing field literally over night and thus the life on this planet does not know what to do with them as they are an unrecognized growth that is over taking the current homeostasis. In the body this is known as cancer. Lack of foresight and the trust in life to be able to carry us through has left the future of the world, and our bodies, in the hands of chemical scientists and multi-national corporations. With their bottom line being the profit of the investor life as we know it has been sold out.
The other day I was attending an Aquaponics conference in Denver, Co. As I was walking to the conference I passed a newsstand and saw the USA Today on the top rack. What caught my attention was a picture of a farmer in the latter part of his career holding up a dead stalk of corn and a bold headline that read ‘DROUGHT’. Desertification often results from over farming an area until it has been drained of resources, top soil and finally biology within the soil. Without plants their is nothing to attract beneficial bugs and animals nor rainwater which eventually results in drought. Other potentials for this phenomenon are farming without the use of crop rotation and the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Soil biology, which is the backbone of a good soil make up, exists in a delicate dance between the natural process of mother nature and the intensive demands of both large and small-scale agribusiness. A friend of mine just recently opened a nursery in what used to be a parking lot. Fighting the harsh elements of asphalt extremes he began to introduce his potted plant reality. Large trees, flowering bushes, water fountains abound with the sounds of falling water immediately created the sense of a newly born ecosystem. Immediately this old parking lot was attracting birds, butterflies, and people. This manmade ‘desert’ transformed literally overnight from a barren, hot parking lot into an ecoscape of bustling life. We can see from these two examples how quickly life can disappear and even reappear.
It is this speed of change that gives me concern. After just a few decades of intensive farming in the Northern California hills we are starting to see dramatic effects to the ecosystem from nutrient and pesticide run off. Rivers like the Eel and the Yuba are being inundated with high level N-P-K fertilizers that are being applied to people’s gardens in their hope to have an abundant harvest. People who seemingly would never do anything to harm their surroundings are dumping tons of chemicals onto their plants that eventually make their way into the ground water, the rivers and eventually the ocean. Unregulated pesticides are being sprayed in hopes of killing those pesky spider mites that suck the life force of the plants that are so carefully being tended. People that would never consume anything toxic are willingly applying gallons of toxic chemicals in concern of losing their crop. Algal growth blooms explode in the water ways surrounding these counties due to the high levels of nutrients running off the plants. Soil biology is being compromised and even killed off as any N-P-K rating over 10 will kill this fragile subterranean ecological web. Why would people do this? I believe one of the reasons is that the products are available in their local stores and so their is potentially a misled belief that anything available in the local shop must be ok. The effects on the ecosystem from an agricultural industry still seemingly young in it’s evolution, maybe 40 years, are drastic and escalating at a rapid pace.
What is the solution? A return to natural, plant based, biologically alive plant foods. I hesitate to even use the word ‘organic’ as it’s definition has been so tainted over the years and now holds little, if even any, integrity due to the current national standards of USDA certification. Farmers domestically and internationally must take it upon themselves to be educated as to what they are applying to their plants and where that run off will eventually wind up. Teas comprised of herbs, compost, guanos and castings are just some of the alternatives to synthetics. Many companies provide a balanced nutrient blend that is in the acceptable ranges of N-P-K that will not create the natural hazards inevitable with synthetics. The argument that synthetics are ok because they derive from natural resources is a conversation best talked about while driving around a round-about. The reason is because it goes no where. The fact is that these concentrates are too strong for the ground waters. They are poisoning our lands. Think beyond the end of your harvest. If you don’t have kids and aren’t concerned about the future generations then think about your local swimming hole being unsafe to swim in and your local springs being unsafe to drink from. Educate yourself. Just because a plastic bottle has a cool picture on it does not make it safe to apply to your farm or pour down your drain. Cool colored nutrients might not be any healthier for the Earth as brightly colored soda pop is for your local kindergarteners. Do everything you can knowing you can’t do everything…