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Organic Farming: Supporting Factory Farms?

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I’ll say right off the bat that I am vegan, but you don’t have to be a vegan to see the benefit these stock-free practices provide both in your garden and on a large scale. For one thing, many of the fertilizers veganic growers use can be created from what you already have in your own backyard (green cover crops, compost teas etc.) or purchased at a reasonable cost. These environmentally sound alternatives to chemical fertilizers replace manure, for example, which is revered for its high nitrogen content. We forget though that the nutrients in manure are themselves derived from what the animal ate which, in ideal situations, is solely plant-based.

By going directly to the source of nitrogen (the plants themselves) we reduce waste and the danger of contamination that animal byproducts can provide, such as livestock grade antibiotics:

“People have long been exposed to antibiotics in meat and milk. Now, the new research shows that they also may be ingesting them from vegetables, perhaps even ones grown on organic farms.

The Minnesota researchers planted corn, green onion and cabbage in manure-treated soil in 2005 to evaluate the environmental impacts of feeding antibiotics to livestock. Six weeks later, the crops were analyzed and found to absorb chlortetracycline, a drug widely used to treat diseases in livestock. In another study in 2007, corn, lettuce and potato were planted in soil treated with liquid hog manure. They, too, accumulated concentrations of an antibiotic, named Sulfamethazine, also commonly used in livestock. 
 
As the amount of antibiotics in the soil increased, so too did the levels taken up by the corn, potatoes and other plants.” – Environmental Health News

You may say to yourself – well what if I get my manure and blood meal from “organic livestock” that haven’t been treated with antibiotics? It is still a waste of environmental resources. For example, if you took the hay/grass normally fed to cows (or simple lawn clippings) and add it directly to your garden or compost, the gardens will receive all the nitrogen and nutrients normally found in manure and more.*

When you factor in:

The space required for grazing,
(The space required for grazing and growing crops to feed animals takes up over 30% of the earth’s landmass)

The space required to grow crops to feed farm animals,
(More than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that is grown in the United States is fed to farmed animals.)

And finally…..

The space it takes to house the livestock themselves,

the space required to fertilize one-acre of garden with manure instead of simply using the hay/grass itself is over four times greater!

*Much of the plant-based nitrogen cows ingest is lost through their urine. Adding grass/hay directly to a garden or compost also gives you more compostable material to work with and a greater abundance of minerals that would normally be absorbed during digestion.

Next: “But the animals are already being used for other means.” Is veganic growing feasible on large-scale farms?

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Read more: Environment, Green, Health, Lawns & Gardens, Nature, News & Issues, , ,

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

64 comments

+ add your own
12:26PM PDT on Sep 15, 2014

scary, thanks for sharing

11:57AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

Never thought about it, thanks for the info.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/organic-farming-supporting-factory-farms.html#ixzz1f22bmktf

5:40AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

By supporting Green Giant, you're supporting Monsanto and eating GMO corn...at the very least!

Please stop supporting Monsanto before they destroy our food supply with their genetic tampering!

9:26PM PST on Nov 27, 2011

Super info .. thank you!

5:45PM PST on Nov 27, 2011

Victoria Pitchford, I would have to agree to your remarks about the price of Organic produce.
I must also admit that I am guilty of the practice. Yet, I am not the one who started the practice, but we arrived at a place that if we did not offer the organic produce at the elevated price, many people would wonder if was truly organic.
What word comes to mind, perhaps, Crazy. You would be right.

We grow in Aquaponics, the initial outlay for production is somewhat high, but the yield is much higher than that of in ground production. We do not see the inherent health safety issues with regard to Salmonella, E-Coli, Listeria and no hormones.

In our "Industry", we have many regulations, or as we have often cited, we are expected to jump through hoops...No, they set the hoops aflame. Just another day in Paradise.
God speed.

11:47AM PST on Nov 26, 2011

Thanks.



If anyone buys Green Giant products they are supporting the 1%.

3:31PM PST on Nov 25, 2011

It's definitely much better to use plant based fertilizers instead of those coming from animals in terms of the use of land and water and food.

10:18PM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Buy from neighboring farms.

11:18PM PST on Nov 23, 2011

thanks for the article - enlightening!

12:58AM PST on Nov 23, 2011

Never thought about it, thanks for the info.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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