April 6, 2017
Industrial farming. Fertilizer runoff. Polluted grounds and soils.
This is what sustainable, ethical, environmentally friendly farming practices are trying to combat.
The documentary Sustainable is a great resource that highlights the importance of local farming and the impact the practice has on the community, land, food activism, food security, and the healthy, vibrant, and synergetic cultivation of community.
Former New York Times columnist Mark Bittman notes how food production and consumption are suffering a crisis:
“It’s not a crisis that you wake up and see every morning. It’s at a crisis point where you have a health care crisis, where our land and water is being badly used, and [where] agriculture is the number two culprit in climate change.”
There are a host of influential, intelligent, and community-focused chefs, farmers, and academics who are challenging this crisis head on.
John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus at University of Missouri, informs us on how industrial farming is destroying culture, values, and social lives of communities. “Sustainability ultimately is an ethical issue,” says John. “There is no economic reason to do anything for some person of some future generation other than it’s the right thing to do,” he continues, “we owe a debt to those of the past, and we can only repay that debt to the people of the future.”
This is exactly what central Illinois farmer Marty Travis and his community are trying to do.
Chef Rick Bayless challenges us to think of food as nourishment rather than as a commodity. In doing so, Rick fills his kitchen with ingredients grown by Marty on his family farm. From traditional vegetables to historical einkorn wheat, Marty, along with his wife Chris and their son Will, grow crops that are healthy for the community and that are used in over 30 restaurants local to their area.
In 2005, Marty and Chris founded the cooperative Stewards of the Land, that allows them and their neighbours to expand their farms’ growing capacity. By bring the community together, Marty is changing the culture of local food in Chicago. Greg Wade, Baker at Publican Quality Bread who also partners with Marty, says:
“As I was learning to bake with local, fresh milled wheats and other whole grains, he was also learning how to grow them, and together we were kind of learning how to store and mill them and it’s been a pretty dynamic process from there. We’re both inspiring each other to be better.”
Sustainable is an informative watch for anyone—from farmer to eater—who is interested in learning more about the various processes of food production and the important role food production plays in environmental sustainability.