Today, farming isn’t what it used to be. With all of the equipment and technology used for farming today, it is much easier to be a farmer. However, we must ask ourselves whether all these new practices in farming are helping or harming not only the land and animals but also us who consume the end product produced by our farms.

I have come to find that the logic behind modern agricultural practices is greatly lacking, and I wonder if it is truly a lack of logic or if it is driven by dollar signs. Over the past few decades, scientists have been working to develop higher-yielding crops, such as corn, soy beans, and wheat. They do this by genetically modifying the genes of these plants so that each seed planted produces more crops and so that they do not die when the field is sprayed with weed killer.

The obvious results of these advances in technology seem to be beneficial, but as time has gone on, we have started to see people suffering from these changes. Food allergies have sky-rocketed in the past few years, and one has to wonder if this is due in part to the genetic modification happening to our food.

Furthermore, these top crops, corn, soybeans, and wheat, are rarely eaten unprocessed. Rather, they are processed in countless ways and used in most of our pre-packaged foods. Because these crops make the processed foods we eat taste good, we eat a lot of them, and we eat them in different forms throughout the day. The result is that we are eating a diet high in grains but low in fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats.

In addition to this, not only are we eating a highly processed diet that has an unnatural focus on corn in particular, the diets of the animals that eventually become our meat have become very similar, if not worse. Farmers have found that cows fatten up quickly on a diet of corn and have begun feeding them a corn based diet instead of the traditional grass based diet in order to grow them bigger and faster. As a result, the farmer can make more profit on their animals, but humans seem to be suffering from this shift.

In addition to this grain heavy diet with genetically modified grains nonetheless, fresh fruits and vegetables have been slowly cut out of our diets in favor of faster, seemingly tastier alternatives. When was the last time you had a salad or cooked carrots? When you go for a snack? What do you reach for? Do you grab a package of peanut butter crackers, or do you grab an apple?

Too many of us aren’t stopping long enough to think about what we are putting into our bodies. Our busy lifestyles don’t lend themselves well to planning ahead for a highly nutritious diet full of fresh produce and light on the processed grains. However, it is important that we begin thinking of these things again.

We must stop thinking about quantity when it comes to farming and start thinking about quality. The intention of this blog is to educate and encourage not only fellow farmers but also anyone else interested in knowing where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices not only for themselves but also for the stewardship of the earth.

Want to know more? My name is Foster Higgins, and I write here about sustainable agriculture. Check out my On the Farm blog to learn more!