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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

MFAI Director’s Blog – April 2012

Legacy Effects

Two years ago today, the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico ruptured, spewing oil for months and impacting everything from fishing to tourism along the Gulf coast. At some point, a new term was coined by environmentalists to describe the resulting impact. The impact has resulted in “legacy effects” on the wild life, the coast line, and some would argue, on the jobs of many people affected by the mishap.

Recently, I began to wonder, what would be the legacy effects on present and future generations that consume food or meat products grown with GMO seed or receiving applications of glyphosate (Round-up) herbicide. There appears to be more and more evidence these products may be affecting the health of our children and result in long term legacy effects. Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is known for its belief in the benefits of organically grown and local sourced food products, as well as, grass fed beef. The Institute has long been a proponent of a “systems approach” to farming where the farm is viewed as a living, breathing system where food begins with healthy soil. Our forefathers farmed this way, without the use of chemicals and inorganic fertilizers. Is it possible they, intuitively, knew what was good for the human body was also good for the livestock they fed?

The increased demand for that healthy grain and grass- fed beef will increase the supply of it in the long run. I would love to see the USDA allocate some of its purchasing dollars for school lunches toward the purchase of locally grown, organically produced food products. And develop models both for more small and medium-sized farms (not ones vertically controlled by a few huge corporations) to grow healthy meat which would result in the kind of local butchering businesses and lockers that used to be common in our towns. To do so could enhance economic development, community health, and food security.

This not only makes sense, but should cause all of us to consider the legacy effects of industrial agricultural production.