Food is health.
Farmers want to grow good, healthy food. The rise of industrial agriculture – and the pressures on farmers that come with it – makes doing so increasingly difficult.
SeedChange supports small-scale farmers who are putting healthy, nutritious, sustainable food back on the table. Using organic and ecological farming practices, and seeds bred for health and nutrition, farmers can grow harvests that are healthier for the planet. The benefits of sustainable agriculture on the environment translate into health benefits for us too.
Why is today’s industrial food system unhealthy?
We live in a time of unprecedented plenty. There has never been so much food. Yet 820 million people, and rising, still go hungry. Billions more – estimates are as high as half the world’s population – are malnourished in other ways.
A focus on profit over nutrition
Food production chains are designed to supply vast volumes of cheap, processed food to global markets. They rely on just 12 plant and five animal species, a fraction of the 2.1 million varieties of 7,000 plant species that farmers have bred over time. The result: a rapid rise in diet-related diseases, like cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Increased exposure to toxic chemicals
Industrial agriculture came with a dramatic rise in synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides since the mid-1990s. The World Health Organization said that one of the most widely used chemicals, glyphosate, probably causes cancer in humans. These substances find their way into our food and drinking water, causing cumulative negative health effects on humans and wildlife. Farmers and their families are the first to suffer from the devastating impacts.
Mental health issues arise from treating food as a commodity and farmers as cogs in an industrial system. As communities, we miss out on a sense of connection to the land and to each other when food becomes a transaction. Falling incomes, increasing debt and stresses inherent to the job take a heavy toll on family farmers. Practising agroecology, the science and know-how behind sustainable agriculture, not only benefits farmers’ physical health – it empowers them too.
Chocolate, chips, candy, ice cream… They can all contain it
Even your makeup, soaps and lotions could contain a substance whose cultivation contributes to deforestation and displacement of small-scale farmers.
Disappearing corn: Making tortillas without the main ingredient
Climate change makes growing corn in parts of Central America near impossible. So these farmers are turning to a new/old grain to get by.
Does Canada’s new food guide connect healthy eating and healthy farming?
Healthy, sustainable diets cannot exist without healthy, sustainable farming.