Believe it or not, food is both affordable and abundant today. Modern farming practices have made it so there’s no shortage of food on the shelves or in our bellies. Why then are so many individuals concerned with changing the way that we farm? The way big business typically farms isn’t good for our animals, and it isn’t good for us. Sustainable farming is an extremely important concept that all people should be aware of and budding backyard farmers should consider.
Sustainable farming is about much more than just raising chickens to provide for your own table, although that is a big benefit. Joel Salatin argues, “That today 50 percent of all the human edible food produced in the world goes into landfills or greenie-endorsed composting operations rather than through omnivores is both ecologically and morally reprehensible.” Can you disagree? There should be a way to cut down on our wasteful production.
Salatin is one of the world’s biggest advocates for “innovative farming closer to the way our ancestors did it” and subsequently, sustainable farming.
What Is Sustainable Farming?
Although many argue against sustainable farming because they don’t believe it will be able to keep pace with the world’s booming population, scientific studies tell a different story. Apparently, heavily industrialized farms are not the only way to provide for people, so there’s no need to worry on account of the human population.
The whole premise behind sustainable farming is to integrate plant and animal production practices so you can be self-sufficient in a clean, renewable way. The best practices seek to replicate natural processes, integrate crop and livestock areas, as well as avoid pesticide use. Part of getting back to the farming basics is steering clear of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, and the dire health repercussions that they can cause in humans.
In order to have a truly sustainable farm, you must be able to produce food using one piece of land for the long term. What practice could be better for a mini-farm in your backyard?
What Backyard Farms Provide
Not everyone has it in them to be a farmer, and that’s ok. Every one can, however, run their own little farming operation right at home. It’s nearly impossible for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate products on the market for GMOs, so if you plan on feeding your family organic food, you must take it upon yourself to insure that what you put on the table is GMO-free.
GMO-free feed is essential for you, your family, and your animals. In truth, there hasn’t been enough time for scientists to accurately determine the risks GMOs pose to the health of humans. What we do know for sure, however, is that GMOs enable the overuse of pesticides and herbicides—and those aren’t good for anyone. The main ingredient in popular herbicides is glyphosate, a harmful substance that is passed from plant to animal to human, so while the jury is out on GMOs, we do know for sure that glyphosate is dangerous; after all, the whole point of using herbicides is to kill living things. Glyphosate has been linked to growth in breast cancer cells and a breakdown of beneficial bacteria that is essential to the human GI tract functional properly.
All of that is a moot point when backyard farmers just stay away from GMOs for their plants and animals. GMO-free chicken feed, for example, is a requirement for the production of both organic eggs and chicken meat. If you are raising a few chickens at your house or apartment, you can be sure that the unnatural by-products of genetic testing aren’t entering your food. If you aren’t doing this for your animals and your family already, don’t worry. Backyard farms can easily change their practices to adapt to sustainable farming standards.
Organic farming is better for the environment, and the end product is typically fresher, tastier produce. In order for livestock and poultry to yield organic meat, they must eat organic too. This means providing your chickens, turkey, swine, etc. with GMO-free feed.
Put Sustainable Farming Into Practice At Home
Sustainable farming and organic farming, although both aim to get closer to nature, are not the same thing. You can, however, follow some steps to make your backyard farm both sustainable and organic.
- Take the time to plan out the plants and animals that will co-habitate well together so you can have a successfully integrated system. Plant natural herbicides, such as basil, to keep your garden safe; use livestock droppings to fertilize the garden; let your chickens or ducks trim back the vegetable waste in the garden.
- Pick a GMO-free chicken feed. Supplement with leftovers from your table whenever possible. Nothing should go to waste. Ever.
- Have a schedule for rotating crops and pastures to avoid irreparable erosion.
- Set up systems to collect rain water to nourish your plants and animals instead of paying for it.
- Encourage biodiversity. Your first instinct when you see a snake may be to call the exterminator, but that snake is actually ridding your garden of pests.
Did You Know? Hens can eat their babies’ eggs after they hatch, which helps boost calcium for the next round of laying.
The Organic, GMO-Free Lifestyle
When you choose to grow GMO-free, you are choosing to farm the way nature intended. We can take a lesson from our ancestors (and maybe Joel Salatin as well) and integrate our farming systems for a more sustainable, realistic farming experience. Keeping your health and the health of your loved ones in mind, Hiland Naturals has Non GMO Project verified chicken feed, turkey feed, goat feed, swine feed, horse feed, beef feed, and dairy feed available—so whatever you want to raise on your backyard farm, we’ve got you covered. Regardless of which animals and plants you choose to grow, meshing organic food with sustainable farming will benefit those you provide for and the planet for many, many years to come.