In the Midst of Monoculture Obliterating Agriculture, Organic Food Industry Saves the Day?
Monocultures regarding food has always been present and leads to lack of genetic diversity, but the organic food industry is paving the way with a new method of biodiversity in planting crops!
Monoculture has been plaguing many food products for centuries now. Even though this concept has been widely mentioned before, does anyone know what it means. What even is monoculture? The exact definition of the word monoculture is: the growth of a single plant species over a large area of land. Although it may seem beneficial at first to create large quantities of a food product, it ultimately lacks genetic diversity. The problem occurs “when that particular species of plant is susceptible to a certain pest or is subjected to environmental changes with which it cannot cope.” This is also something that renowned theorist Vandana Shiva writes about in her article, Monocultures of the Mind. Shiva states that these monocultures are produced through western science in order to provide “scientific forestry”, but they in actuality are creating a scarcity of these goods. She also states that “The universal/local dichotomy is misplaced when applied to the western and indigenous traditions of knowledge, because the western is a local tradition which has been spread world wide through intellectual colonization.” Monoculture is a product of western colonization which subtly manipulates another culture to almost overproduce food products that cause lack of genetic diversity; this can happen due to certain demands or cultural partiality to the food item. Monoculture is seen as an easy fix and cheap thing to do, but the affects on the economy and the food product are harmful and devastating.
In one way this occurred in history is the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. Because of the “Lack of genetic variation in Irish potatoes contributed to the severity of the Irish potato famine, which devastated Ireland’s population and economy.” This is one of the biggest cases of the devastations that monoculture illicit on the people as well as economy. By this occurrence, it can be taken into account that one food product cannot solely be in demand over others, or cases like the potato famine can happen again.
Although there are never easy or quick fixes to widespread problems like monoculture, there is a new trend that is setting back monoculture and building diversity.
Organic. This has been a new recent trend that has erupted in the United States and adapted by Western Culture. Although being organic and thriving off of organic food has been around for centuries, this concept is barely taking off in the US and creating many healthy and clean food opportunities. In most cultures, the concept of organic has always been around, until recent years where farmers started to use pesticides and genetically altered seeds to help food withstand harsh conditions involving weather inconsistencies as well as pest control.
But what is organic? The organic label (USDA) is basically stating that the item is not genetically modified (GMOs) or has any preservatives injected to keep the freshness, and instead is grown by natural and healthy ways. The United States Department of Agriculture makes sure that the foods being offered by them are fresh, clean, and healthy, and the USDA label indicates these properties.
And nowadays, it can be seen that organic culture actually counters monoculture by planting different types of crops and creating biodiversity within food. This biodiversity is created even more so by the organic farms in order to provide fresh, clean, and healthy fruits, vegetables as well as grains to large populations. Because of organic food, there is a huge demand in diverse food such as almonds, coconuts, quinoa, avocados, soybeans, and many other foods. This concept is not only challenging monoculture, but it is also improving our ecosystems and creating genetic variations that are great for our earth!
What is the thing that is saving our planet? Biodiversity is the variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem. This is what our society and nature basically thrives on. If there was not any biodiversity, our ecosystems and food sources would fail which would cause a huge collapse and outbreak of famine. Biodiversity tackles down monoculture which is dissipating our crops and food sources. It is said that the “human settlement and agriculture have been the traditional enemy of nature and biodiversity.” And this is precisely what Shiva states when she says that “the monoculture of the mind is best illustrated in the knowledge and practice of forestry and agriculture.” It comes down to the fact that monoculture is a disease to biodiversity in our ecosystems and food systems since it neglects any genetic variations or diversity, in itself.
In a way, the new organic craze is actually creating a biodiversities which challenge monoculture. With biodiversity, we are helping our planet and ecosystems thrive for many more years!
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