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Thinking Ahead: Sustainable Farming and Food Systems
Given the rapidly increasing global population and the ongoing process of climate change, urgent steps must be taken to ensure that the earth’s limited food resources will still be available to meet the needs of future generations. Unfortunately, many of the traditional farming methods that remain in use worldwide have played a role in exacerbating this looming crisis.
Due to the situation’s mounting urgency, agriculturalists in recent years have developed the concept of ‘sustainable farming’ as a potential solution to the challenges posed by man-made environmental degradation.
Although farmers have relied upon them for centuries, many conventional agricultural techniques take a significant toll on the environment. For example, soil tillage can result in land erosion. At the same time, excessive irrigation can lead to salinization in the absence of adequate drainage.
Along with contributing to climate change, the long-term effects of these practices can also include water scarcity and deforestation. In hopes of reversing these harmful trends, agriculturists are now studying, and, in some cases, implementing, new ways of meeting food demand without hurting the earth’s delicate ecosystems.
Sustainable Food Systems
In the 21st century, agriculturalists are particularly interested in what have been termed ‘sustainable food systems.’ These are systems and food production methods that can yield healthy and nutrient-rich human sustenance without adversely impacting the environment.
In addition to sustainable farming methods, sustainable food systems also typically include sustainable methods of food distribution, the promotion of sustainable diets, and the near-total elimination of food waste.