My thoughts today will combine two things about which I have a great deal of passion: agriculture and words. (Yes, if you didn't know that about me, I love words..., and more importantly, the proper use of them.)
How am I combining these two passions? By sharing with you a summary of an article I read recently. The article was entitled "Defining Sustainable Agriculture." The purpose of the article was to unpack what is really meant by that phrase "sustainable agriculture."
First, true-confession-time. While I certainly love the idea of sustainable agriculture - I mean, one of the primary statements of the mission of Growing Hope Foundation revolves around "preserving the land" - but I go on alert when I hear the phrase "sustainable agriculture" because it is a phrase I have started to fear has become politicized. What does it mean for a phrase to become politicized, you may wonder? Well, it means that the word or phrase seems to have been picked up to be used in the furthering of a specific political agenda. And, from my vantage point it seemed as if the phrase "sustainable agriculture" had been picked up to be used in this manner.
And so, while I am somewhat embarrassed to admit it, I will say I have had occasions where I have been skeptical of articles that focus on "sustainable agriculture", assuming the article will have more to do with the politics of agriculture than real, honest concern for the field of agriculture, and even more so, real, honest concern for the land itself.
There, I admitted it. Shame on me. I hope you will not hold it against me (for long) for I am merely human and am trying to change, to be more open-minded and willing to talk, and even more importantly, to listen.
So, this article piqued my interest because it was about "defining" the phrase sustainable agriculture. This makes me feel more at ease with the article because the title seemed to imply that it was going to open up the phrase, to hopefully define it more broadly, in a way that would allow me to be a part of the conversation. And it did. The article spoke of five points that ought to be considered when discussing whether or not a practice is sustainable. The five points are:
1. Meeting the needs of the present while enhancing the ability of future generations to meet their needs
2. Increasing productivity to meet future food demands
3. Decreasing impacts on the environment
4. Improving human health
5. Improving social and economic health of agriculture communities
Now I have a reason to feel good about the phrase sustainable agriculture because I can see objectivity in how something is being deemed "sustainable." These metrics help guard against the phrase becoming political because they can be considered from a variety of vantage points.
I am so grateful to have come across this article which has helped me feel good about moving forward in participating in conversations about sustainable agriculture, because it is a subject of great importance in our world.
I wish you well.