I visited a family farm recently. It was small, and local, and certified organic. In theory, it was everything an eco-conscious foodie could want. And yet, it wasn’t.
Like every farm family, the couple who runs the farm is constrained by economic factors.
Unfortunately, the measures they’ve taken to make their finances work have made their farm less environmentally sustainable.
Their biggest expense is labor, so they do everything they can to reduce the amount of labor they need, including employing machines. A lot of machines. Machines that run on fossil fuels.
They use tractors to plow, plant, and weed the fields. They frequently disturb the soil this way, because herbicides aren’t organic, and hand weeding is too expensive.
They get a few extra weeks of productivity and added income from extending their growing season by lining the ground with plastic to heat the soil. Then they throw the plastic away.