by John Lansdell

The earth is a complex system that is in continual movement to find an equilibrium. Our population is in excess of 7 billion people, and predictions indicate that we’ll eventually hit 12 billion. Present lifestyles and methods of using resources to sustain the amount of food required for the present population is not sustainable. We are using up the resources of the earth in such a way that we are polluting the atmosphere, the fresh waterways, oceans, soils and ourselves, to an extent that most living things are really on the brink of extinction. Therefore, we – all humans – must rethink our methods of putting food on the table.

Presently, most large industrial farms till and plow the earth, plant genetically modified seeds, spread chemically manufactured fertilizers and nitrogen onto the soil along with herbicides and pesticides, provide copious amounts of water and then deliver the fruit, vegetables, juices and nuts long distances using combustion fuels.

Similarly, meat, eggs and milk are provided from industrial farms that cluster animals and birds into shelters that provide no freedom, feed them with foods meant to fatten them up or increase production, provide them with unnecessary antibiotics, causing super viruses, slaughter them and deliver the product long distances, again, using combustion fuels. The only function for these plants and animals is to maintain food for man.

There are many ways we as individuals can help to turn things around by growing our own food. Some of the ways we can help is by utilizing methods of growing organic foods at home. Some approaches include hydroponics, aquaponics, garden pools, home gardens that take the place of ornamental planting, and permaculture. These methods use only 5 to 10 percent of the water used by traditional farming methods, and all of the waste can be put in small composters and used in home gardens, eliminating the need to provide additional chemical fertilizers.

Permaculture takes the residential garden into a whole new area by combining perennials together to provide a designed garden and farm that functions like nature with each plant, tree and animal designed and placed so that it feeds the next from its waste. Water, plants and animals live in harmony, each providing the needs of the other. Permaculture is a larger enterprise beyond the means of most of us.

Should each of us produce and consume the equivalent of one meal per month at home, that’s 7 billion meals not needing processing and transport – a big difference.