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Problems in Agriculture – 4: Low Variety

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: Part1Part2, Part3

By |April 11th, 2016|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

Problems in Agriculture – 3: Quantity over Quality

Quantity Over Quality

It’s no secret that there are problems as to how the current agriculture and food system is set up. One of the most pressing issues, in my opinion, is that we are currently stuck in a loop of eating nutrient-less, tasteless vegetables that are very blatantly less than fresh. Every day, we are eating vegetables that are not living up to their full potential. In fact, some 12 vegetables declined 27% in calcium, 37% in iron, 21% in vitamin A, and 30% in vitamin C from an analysis of nutrient data from the years 1975-1997. Likewise, the British Food Journal published data collected from 1930 to 1980 where 20 vegetables were found to have dropped 14% in potassium, 22% in iron, and 19% in calcium. (Kushi Institute)

I find it extremely worrisome that in the past few decades the vegetables we consume have declined in vitamins and nutrients percentage-wise in the double digits. While the cause of the nutrients content decline is due to a number of issues, one of those causes is that crops are typically harvested earlier than their complete maturation process due to having to transport 1,500 kilometers to reach your table. There are a few things that can be done. First, healthy produce is grown on healthy soil. In order to make the soil healthier, and prevent any damage to the soil, you should start by forgoing any fertilizers and pesticides, using organic growing methods instead. Another tip is to alternate fields between growing seasons, which allows the land to have time to be restored back to its full nature before planting crops in it again.

Of course, telling companies what’s needed to be done to their crops to make them taste fresher and more flavorful as well as jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients won’t convince all of them to just quit what they’re doing and make the switch. Unfortunately, big-time companies continue to cause problems with the current agriculture system simply by providing food that’s got less nutritional value and less flavor to each bite. However, shopping at your local growers instead of a big-time corporation or mass-producing company is always the better option. (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

Once you’ve found local growers that meet all of your food needs and you’ve transitioned to going to them regularly for all of your food-needs, it’s time to take the next step and grow your own food. The only way to avoid vegetables and fruits that are rich in toxins and contamination and low on the nutrients that they were initially chock full of with the utmost confidence is to grow the food yourself. Supporting local growers and taking part in personal urban framing as you transition is always recommended, but growing your own food allows you to reach a whole new level of “organic.” The disease-preventing, health- and life-giving foods that we so desperately need to consume in order to stay at our full potential become that much more rich in nutrients that our bodies crave. (Permaculture Research Institute)

Another obvious tip that’s often forgotten, especially when it comes to this particular subject, is to spread the word about all of the knowledge that you gain on the state of the current food system and what people can do to change it and turn it around. Only loud voices everywhere at one time can truly start a movement that’s remembered.

By picking produce that’s been grown on healthy soil through a local grower, or growing it yourself, is the best method to use in order to fight the chaos that the current agriculture system has become. Once you’ve finally made the transition to either shopping local or growing your own, you can combat the way mass-produce companies take advantage of consumer and their lack of knowledge on the subjects. I personally think that once you’re aware of the state of the current food system, it’s up to you to take up personal urban farming, support local growing, and spread the word. It’s easy to simply spread the word about the agriculture system, what people can do to change the way the system works now, and how they can switch to a personal urban farming lifestyle or shopping local just like you did.

This article is part of a miniseries about problems in current agriculture.
Read the previous articles here: <a href=”http://swissponic .ch/problems-in-agriculture-1-high-usage-of-chemicals/”>Part1, Part2

By |April 5th, 2016|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

TEDxLugano

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Great news!
Patrick has been confirmed as a speaker of TEDxLugano.
Now he really has to learn to speak in decent English! 🙂

For those of you around Switzerland on April 16th 2016, organizers told us that there are still few tickets available. Don’t miss the opportunity! Apply for tickets here: Apply for tickets.

By |March 25th, 2016|Categories: Blog|Comments Off on TEDxLugano

Problems in Agriculture – 2: Food Mileage

On average, food has to travel 2,400 kilometers from field to table. Traveling that far of a distance requires a lot of energy – it uses up refrigeration, transportation, stocking, and processing. One of the major problems with the way the current agriculture and food system is set up is the fact that food has to have so many miles on it before it reaches a family table. By crossing so many miles, the risk of the food getting contaminated, withering, spoiling, and losing its overall freshness increase exponentially. There are many problems with the way food has to travel so far to reach you, and there is one easy solution that citizens across the world can use to sustain themselves while still enjoying all of the nourishing foods they get imported . (Cuesa)

The local-food growing movement has steadily been gaining momentum. First, it started in already developed countries, as well as many developing countries. A local diet and shopping local simply means purchasing all of the food you consume within a 150-kilometer radius to your home. While the 150-kilometer radius mark is usually the most commonly accepted, there are some that also accept up to 250 kilometers depending on your location, especially if you’re in an especially dry and desert-like region. (Worldwatch Institute)

Not only are there benefits for you when you shop and grow local, but there are also countless environmental benefits. When food has to travel well over a thousand miles to reach your table, resources have been exhausted (gas for transportation, refrigeration, etc.) in order to get it there. Your food has, overall, less of an environmental impact when you switch to growing your own or shopping locally. By making the switch, you’re greatly diminishing your carbon footprint. Plus, local food is safer, preserves genetic diversity far more than imported foods, and there are a number of other benefits that growing local has to offer.

There are also many personal benefits that shopping for local food has to offer. First, food that was grown locally and just recently picked from the vine, tree, plant, or bush is going to taste and look better than anything mass-produced stored has to offer. Not only that, but local food has more nutritional value in each bite. Not only does your body reap the benefits of everything that local food has to offer, but you also get the joy of talking to a local grower or farmer that you’re helping by shopping at their location instead of a big-time grocery store. Getting to help a local grower put food on their own table by shopping through them is reward enough. (University of Vermont)

There is a distinct difference between local food and sustainable food that is important to mention when discussing the switch to shopping locally. While they are sometimes used interchangeably or as synonyms, “local” food is simply food that is grown within a certain mile radius from your home. “Sustainable,” on the other hand, is food that has the ability to be maintained at a specific rate or level, thriving and becoming chock full of vitamins and nutrients that the counterparts and mass-produced grocery stores could never compared to.

Once you become fully aware of the problems that the current food system is facing, you can become more active in doing something to change the system and you can stay informed about what the agriculture field is becoming. By switching to local foods, you reduce the risk of food getting damaged, spoiled, or contaminated, and you help a local farm near you instead of a big-time corporation or company.

This article is part of a miniseries about problems in current agriculture.
Read the previous articles here: Part1

 

 

By |March 21st, 2016|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

Problems in Agriculture – 1: High Usage of Chemicals

<img class="alignnone wp-image-413 size-full" src="http://swissponic.ch/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Agriculture-High-Usage-of-Chemicals.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="400" srcset="http://swissponic.ch/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Agriculture-High-Usage-of-Chemicals .jpg 700w, http://swissponic.ch/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Agriculture-High-Usage-of-Chemicals-300×171.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px” />

This is part 1 of a mini-series of articles on the problems of current agriculture.mens club 24

The human population in the world never ceases its steady increase upwards, which is why it’s no surprise that it’s projected there will be 9 billion people on the planet in just 40 years. There are many pressing matters in the agricultural field that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later, especially when taking the population of the world into consideration. The first item to add to the itinerary, before addressing other agriculture issues, is the fact that there are such high usage levels of chemicals for fungicides, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides – really, any chemicals sprayed on the food that people are supposed to later eat. (Grace Communications Foundation)

It’s obvious that there are many benefits to using pesticides on crops, because otherwise the world wouldn’t be saturating the food we eat in them. However, the hazards that pesticides have to offer far outweigh any benefits they could possible offer to the crops. A field of crops with a pest problem is a much better alternative to a field of crops dusted with chemicals that are extremely harmful and provide unwanted side effects to people and animals alike. (Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University)

Not only is there a hazardous effect to all human health that comes in contact with the harmful pesticides uses to treat most crops, but those particular chemicals are also harmful to the environment that they sit in. Pesticides contaminate turf, soil, water, and any vegetation that it comes into contact with. It is a disease that slowly kills off the beauty of a land, leaving in its place a withered husk of unhealthy crops and dying land. (Cornell University)

A problem that’s happening worldwide because of harmful pesticides is groundwater pollution. Over 140 various pesticides along with over 20 transformation products have been found polluting ground water areas. Pollution detection has been found in 43 states in the US, and an alarming 58% of drinking water samples that were drawn from the hand pumps and wells throughout India were found polluted as well. (National Institute of Health)

Not only do the pesticides seep into the groundwater, but they also seep into the soil. Even though most of the pesticides that originally created this problem are no longer sold on the market, the residue of their toxic stay remains present. The populations of microorganisms that provided beneficial soil decline when pesticides are sprayed on the area. Over time, the microorganisms are no longer able to provide the necessary nutrients the soil needs, and the soil dies completely. (Food Alliance)

Pesticides are harmful to just about everywhere they touch – including the very air that it was sprayed into before it reached the crops. It contaminates the air, the soil, and any non-target vegetation within the vicinity. What many may not realize is that there is a certain level of drift with any sort of equipment that would be used to spray pesticides across crops. In fact, as much as 2-25% of the chemical that’s applied to the crops drifts a distance of just a few yards to as far as a few hundred miles. This can substantially effect a massive portion of land, contaminating all of the non-targeted plants and vegetation, soil, air, and water. (L.E.A.F.)

The chemicals used for current agriculture are overwhelmingly harmful to the environment it’s presented to. Not only do pesticides contaminate non-targeted plants outside of the crop range – for as far as a few hundred miles – but by contaminating the non-targeted plants, the animals and insects that ingest these plants are also contaminated and potentially harmed. Bees, specifically, are slowly dying because of this very problem. It’s absolutely vital that current agriculture alters the way that crops are taken care of with pesticides, as the areas contaminated and effected will only spread out more and more as the problem persists.

 

Guess how we can solve these problems?

 

 

By |March 16th, 2016|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

Swissponic joins Association for Vertical Farming

avf_and_swissponic
As part of the growing movement of Urban Farming, I’m very happy to announce that Swissponic has joined the Association for Vertical Farming.
The association is a “nonprofit organization focusing on advancing Urban and Vertical Farming technologies, designs and businesses” and is the ideal cooperation platform for the actors involved in urban farming.

By joining, we hope to give our practical contribute and our expertise to the other members and to the whole community.

By |March 14th, 2016|Categories: Blog|Tags: |0 Comments