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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Letter from Publisher

Jul 03, 2018 01:25AM

Science often has unintended consequences, leading to results that were not part of the original purpose. In Anastacia Marx de Salcedo’s book, Combat-Ready Kitchen: How The U.S. Military Shapes The Way You Eat, we learn how most processed foods found on today’s supermarket shelves started out as science experiments, originally intended to serve as combat rations for soldiers during long stretches on the battlefield.

While food science has contributed to unhealthy food production for more than 60 years, research has also helped the effort to build healthy soils and naturally increase the nutritional density of foods grown. For example, integrative pest management has helped to reduce chemical spraying; and more small- and mid-sized farms are raising livestock on pastures (as nature intended) and employing methods like rotational grazing to help maintain nutritious forages.

Our July feature article, “Organic Farmers: Growing America’s Health,” is about more than just growing food without toxic chemical inputs; it’s about “a system that requires conscientiously improving soil, water and associated resources while producing safe and healthy food for America’s growing population of informed consumers.”

Wisconsinites are fortunate to have an abundance of local, organically grown choices. In its 2017 organic agriculture status report, the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems reported that, nationally, Wisconsin is second only to California in the overall number of organic farms and in the number of farms adding organic acres. Dedicated to education and environmental stewardship, many organic farmers participate in research with organizations like the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, in East Troy. The institute is known for its research into sustainable farming techniques, such as using cover crops and vermiculture composting (decomposition of food waste by worms).

Like many things in life, farming and gardening are riddled with trial and error, and the risks should not be ignored. Our commitment to independent, organic farming is the price we must pay for food sovereignty—that is, our right to define our own food and agriculture systems and to access healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods. Our commitments to support organic farmers, to protect seed freedom, and to grow our own food are critical to our right to choose what we want to eat.

Many small farmers are transparent, opening their farms for tours, volunteer opportunities, farm dinners and other events that connect customers directly with the fields. Farmers’ markets are convenient vehicles for meeting farmers and directly asking them questions about their growing processes. These opportunities should not be taken for granted. We must get involved and stay engaged to protect our food diversity.

Let’s keep growing together,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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