I think that it’s a sad fact that only the most resistant and most transportable vegetables are grown and sold nowadays. That limits the amount of vegetables that people are introduced to, can cook with, and it limits the imagination of those who aren’t quite ready to switch to the healthy lifestyle. If a bigger variety of vegetables were readily available just like fast food is, there wouldn’t be such an issue with the current agriculture system . As of now, though, the low variety of vegetables offer on the mass market is a major problem with the current food system – locally, however, there are solutions to fix it.
One of the most appalling figures I’ve found that has to do with the current agricultural system is that in the past 80 years, we’ve lost over 93% of the variety in our food and culture seeds. In 1903, there were 285 types of cucumbers, 463 types of radishes, 497 types of lettuce, and a whopping 544 types of cabbage. Just 80 years later, there were 16 types of cucumbers, 17 types of radishes, 36 types of lettuce, and only 28 types of cabbages. Over 90% of the vegetable varieties that we had in 1903 are now completely extinct. The painful truth is that we are losing variety and trading it out for convenience, easy transportation, and those vegetables that are most resistant to disease. (National Geographic)
Even more appalling than the numbers above is the fact that it’s such a hushed subject that’s kept quiet and out of the general public’s ear. Where we stand now, this fact needs to change, and it needs to change fast. Spreading the word is the best that most can do to help change the state in which our current agricultural and food system is. Spreading the word and getting involved in personal urban farming is the best solution on an individual scale for this issue. After all, spreading the word is how entire movements, revolutions, and vast changes have come to pass, so it can’t hurt to try and get as many people involved as possible.
The next important step is to ensure that you grow all possible crops locally, or at least shop through a local grower, so that you may continue to spread out the speed and slowly increase the variety of vegetables offered now. By growing locally, getting involved in personal urban farming, and spreading the news as both of your goals, you can also educate others on the benefits of growing or shopping locally. Keeping others informed on how growing locally can help them, the many benefits that it can offer both them and their environment, and much more will allow them to make a knowledgeable decision about the food that they ingest and where they get it from. (Fast Code Design)
The heirloom seed strands that we have left can remain on this planet as long as we let them. The most important thing is to help as many seeds as possible to thrive to their full potential through personal urban farming, help farmer markets and local growers by investing in them and purchasing through them instead of a mass-produced company, and to continue changing the public consciousness about the entire subject in general. While it won’t be known if we’ll ever be able to properly assess and make up for the actions of our past generations that killed off the variety to begin with for quite some time, all that can be done in the meantime is to continue spreading awareness to as many friends, relatives, and even strangers that you connect with. If you think it’s important enough, and you understand how pressing of an issue it is when it comes to the planet as a whole, educating those around you on the subject will be a breeze.
This article is part of a miniseries about problems in current agriculture.
Read the previous articles here: Part1, Part2, Part3