Sustainability in Agriculture

Sustainability in Agriculture

Farm-to-table is a becoming a popular trend in America, and Chattanooga is no exception. The number of restaurants that source their food locally and seek ethical farming practices are growing exponentially. We are becoming a city that recognizes a need for change in agriculture.

One of the first main attempts at getting local farms’ food available to the people of Chattanooga was the Sunday Market in the First Tennessee Pavilion. The Sunday Market became the place for families to spend their Sundays, looking at the art, eating food from the food trucks, and buying local produce like those exceptionally delicious summer strawberries. Now there are farmer’s markets all over the city of Chattanooga, another example of our growing awareness. 

At this point, people know they should be buying organic food, or going to farmer’s markets, but a lot of people don’t really know why these purchasing practices are important. The main narrative is that organic is supposed to mean it’s healthy, right?

While this is partially true, it's not the whole story. "Organic" ultimately means that it is sustainable. Our modern industrial farming practices have begun to disregard what’s going to be best long-term. It’s easiest to grow food only thinking about the now. Using pesticides and herbicides helps protect the plant in this particular growing season, but what happens when it runs off into water sources and kills the fish?

See, we have forgotten that soil is alive. We treat soil like it will always serve us, but our soil took hundreds of thousands of years to become the amazing ecosystem that it is. Every time that we put fertilizer in the soil, we are damaging the delicate balance in place. Sure, it’s absolutely easier to use fertilizer so that we can grow out of the same field every season, but eventually that soil is going to give up, and then what will we do?

Growing food organically means growing it without chemicals, which of course is healthy for your body, but ultimately it’s what will help the land last the test of time. Aiding in keeping the land alive is true sustainability. We must be sustainable in agriculture in order to keep it all going.

You can have an impact on sustainable agriculture by supporting farms with ethical farming practices. Head out to Crabtree Farms and have a look at their fresh squash or lettuce. Stop by the Main Street farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons and talk to the people who are passionate about food and agriculture. Shopping sustainably starts with shopping locally.