Organic Consumers Association

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With Her New Book, Sustainable Food Advocate Jill Richardson Invites You to Join the Cause

Americans are more obese than ever, our current agriculture system is dependent on oil and other limited resources, our waterways and air are polluted by factory-like farming operations, and still opponents try to push sustainable agriculture to the margins. But change is possible, as Jill Richardson writes in her new book, Recipe for America: Why Our Food System is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It, which breaks down many of the issues facing the food system and provides approximately 70 pages of solutions.

The book first sets out to explain the way our agriculture system devolved from sustainable to unsustainable. "In the end, the numerous problems in our food system - pollution, human rights abuses, poor food safety, the breakdown of rural communities, the decline in our health - are hardly random," she writes. "Instead, they stem from a common thread of industrialization, which occurred primarily over the second half of the twentieth century."

The logical conclusion for Richardson, then, is that sustainable agriculture is the only way forward. In the next chapter, she details the reasons why sustainable agriculture works - beginning with the inherent consideration it provides to the common good, by maintaining the land, the air, and other species for future generations. She spends time talking about the science of building fertile soil, a necessary part of the practice of sustainable agriculture, as well as the importance of biodiversity, which creates stability in the populations of neighboring plants and organisms. She makes it clear that these considerations are being left out of current conventional agriculture, which purports that we can indefinitely add fertilizer to fields instead of building topsoil (we can't; a crucial element, phosphorus, which can be maintained in topsoil, is now most often being irrevocably washed away every growing season through bad agricultural practices). Building up soil is scientific, involving laboratory samples and methodology, not some turn back to the past, Richardson asserts. This method also saves the farmer money while promoting the environment; and without doing such, we face a future inability to feed ourselves.

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