Environmental pollution is a significant problem. But while most of the focus is placed on polluting industries, toxins like mercury and small particle traffic pollution, a major source of environmental devastation is caused by modern food production. Far from being life sustaining, our modern chemical-dependent farming methods:
- Strip soil of nutrients
- Destroy critical soil microbes
- Contribute to desertification and global climate change, and
- Saturate farmlands with toxic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that then migrate into ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans.
The conversion of grasslands and pastures into chemical-driven, industrial crop land has eliminated much of the natural filtering of ground water that such native landscapes typically provide. Health risks of nitrogen include a potential connection to cancer, as well as thyroid and reproductive problems in both humans and livestock.
Modern fertilizer consists of varying amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These three are believed to be essential for plants to grow, and are extracted from the soil with each harvest. This is why farmers spread fertilizer on their fields, to replace the nutrients lost. It’s certainly not the ideal and sustainable way to farm, but it’s thought to be the most efficient for large-scale farms. Strategies like crop rotation and allowing large fields to rest would cut too deep into profits that are based on quantity, opposed to quality.