Development in Farming and Food production

Farming and food production changed dramatically after WW2. With the aim of producing more crops for less money, and the discovery of certain pesticides and herbicides (originally developed for warfare), farms became highly mechanized factories run on fossil fuel. Workers were taught only one job on repeat, making them easily replaceable and cheap labour. Entire fields were suddenly used for just one crop, where as before one farm would grow a variety of crops using techniques such as crop rotation to keep the soil healthy. 

Where are we now? After years of:

•monoculture, which has destroyed biodiversity of the seeds and the crops, leading to the degradation of the soil. In other words it has robbed us of vital minerals from all the foods that grow in that soil. Essential minerals needed by our bodies for optimum health.

•Excessive use of fossil fuels used for all the machinery, not to mention the carbon foot print of industrial livestock. Both of which promote climate change and destroy our environment and massively assist in the world’s deforestation.

•The fact that the countryside is becoming more toxic than the cities because of all the chemicals being sprayed on the foods we eat. Ruining our health and the environment.

 We have reached the stage where we can no longer turn a blind eye to the detrimental effects of industrial farming.

Luckily Regenerative Organic Agriculture is also a modern farming method, which is becoming more and more popular. It aims to bring sustainable methods of farming to the communities by using practices that don’t hurt the environment or the humans ie. They don’t use toxic chemicals, GM seeds, large amounts of fossil fuel or anything else that would spoil nature.

Instead they rotate crops, using techniques such as planting clover to amend soil by fixing nitrogen. Bringing a more humane approach to livestock agriculture, by letting the animals roam outside on a natural diet in manageable numbers, instead of having them pumped with antibiotics. They also support farming communities by providing fair wages in a safe environment.

Agriculture convention. France ca. 1985

Agriculture convention. France ca. 1985

The relationship we have with our food since WW2 has also changed so much.

Before WW2 most products were local. There was no real industrial farming full of toxic chemicals. You might even know the farmer who was growing the vegetables you would eat. There was no need to be on a ‘Clean’ diet because everything was clean. You also knew what you were getting without it needing to be labelled or wrapped in plastic.

These days it takes a lot of effort to actually know exactly what it is you are consuming. And a lot of people are just unaware of where their food is coming from or what is in their foods because the end product is so processed and far removed from it’s natural form. Foods are now made in a factory rather than in the kitchen.

The refining process that these foods go through rob them even further of vitamins like Vitamin B & E and mineral like Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper and dietary fibre. So the soil that grows them is depleted of it’s nutrients and then we further refine these foods stripping them of what was left. It’s no wonder the population is over eating and yet still starved of the nutrients needed to be healthy.

Most meals are made to accommodate a lifestyle short of time. People who take time over their meals and have family dinners at the table, are a minority. Although there is a trend rebelling against that, the majority of people still want cheap foods, that are ready made and easily available.

 The Farming industry did deliver in it’s aim to mass produce cheap foods. But it came at the cost of our health, our environment and our global neighbours in developing countries. It has become shear quantity over quality. Made possible by agricultural subsidies, because the cheap foods on the market cost much more to make than their price tag. It has become a mass market controlled by very few companies like Monsanto, who only have financial gain and complete control of the market in mind.

Foods like cooking oils, which are in their purest form very fragile because of their double bonded structure, are heavily processed in order to add shelf life, desired texture and colour. This process of heating, bleaching, deodorising and adding preservatives, called chemical hydrogenation turns these polyunsaturated fats into trans fats. Sure it adds shelf life and they look good in a glass bottles but they have been striped of any nutritional value making them pure calories. But even worst than that is that their structure has changed on a molecular level into something our bodies can no longer safely process. The health risks of consuming trans fats, range from a raise in ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, inflammation, interfering with pregnancies, lowering the immune response to an increase risk of cancer.

Of course everything is relative and it all depends on your own individual make up and the amounts you consume. but if you’re still eating fast foods and having that pack of crisp regularly, it might already be too much.