Environment, Food & Travel

Ecological Agriculture: The Key to Sustainable Food Production


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#MUNIonThis:

Many of us aim to be more conscious of the consumption and investment decisions we make, and how these decisions affect others and the earth. Some opt to use less plastic, conserve electricity, or buy locally, just to name a few. And while often overlooked, things as basic as the grains and produce we eat everyday matter too.

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Most, if not all, people know about the concept of organic food. The go-to definition is food grown without the use of artificial chemicals. As consumers, many of us will think that the concept of organic food is great, but not many have made it a point to consistently buy organic food.

Why choose organic?

We may think that agriculture, whether conventional or ecological, would be beneficial to the earth. However, due to the heavy pesticide and energy use of conventional farming practices, agriculture is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. During a visit to Good Food Community’s partner farm in Tarlac, I heard stories of farmers that got cancer after years of exposure to harmful pesticides used in conventional farming.

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There is so much more to organic or ecological farming than just opting not to use chemicals in production too. The key idea behind it is to create a small ecosystem within the farm. Ecological farmers use techniques that are based on the way plants survive in a natural ecosystem.

While monocropping is generally seen as the more efficient and economic option, it can damage and reduce the nutrients in the soil and increase its vulnerability to changes in the weather, thus threatening the country’s food security. By intercropping, or growing a crop among plants of a different kind, a farmer can already “confuse” pests, and increase the chances of crop survival during bad weather conditions.

When done properly, certain crops act as a beneficial companion for other kinds of crops, such as tomatoes and basil. Mulching, or the spreading of decaying leaves and bark over the soil, can also enrich and insulate the soil, and reduce the growth of weeds. Even some of the crawlers and “weeds” help out the process.

How does this relate to non-farmers?

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Even if you don’t have vast farmlands to plant on, there are many ways you can support ecological agriculture, and become much more involved the process of food production. Here are just a few ways by which you can connect more with the food you eat.

  • Backyard Farming. Grow your own vegetables while achieving a deeper understanding of the process.
  • Go organic. Support ecological farming & boost the nutritional quality of your food.
  • Farm to Fork movement. Get fresh food while supporting small and local farms.
  • Community Shared Agriculture. Have the opportunity to meet the faces behind your food, support ecological agriculture, and receive high quality fruits and vegetables.
  • Join the campaign. Ask our government to support ecological agriculture, and educate yourself on the threats of genetically engineered crops.

[Editor’s note: Learn more about Farming in the City or starting your own urban garden at the forum from 2:00PM-3:00PM at Muni Market Day v2.0, featuring panelists Professor Lilian Patena of UPLB’s Institute of Plan Breeding, Ryan Aguas of Bahay Kubo Organics, and Pia Ranada of Rappler.]


Sam
Sam Dizon (@dizoncommasam) is a part-time sustainability researcher, part-time blogger, and full-time lover of the world. She firmly believes in small acts of kindness, world peace, cheap dates, and the efficiency of bullet points. Follow her side-street adventures here: samthingtodo.wordpress.com.

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