Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Exploration 8: Lauren Richards

1). For me the most important ideas and evidence that was put forth from the movie was that we need to learn where our food comes from, the agricultural practices that are happening, and how we can improve farming practices. In the film they talked about how the practices of industrial farming are harming the earth, people, and the animals. Today it is all about convenience, one of the sources in the movie said “Americans hate inconvenience” so we choose our food to what is easy and accessible. The film really stressed growing food naturally without pesticides and treating livestock humanely. I think the film did a great job in showing why Joel Salatin, Will Allen, and Russ Kremer’s methods work and how they farm. However, I think the film really needed to show what industrial farming is like. Especially with how livestock are raised. The conditions that many cows, chickens, and pigs are living in are heavily populated and very susceptible to illness or disease. If they were to really show what it is like I think it would have had a large impact on the audience. I could remember feeling shocked the first few movies I have watched prior to this class on farming and it changed my view on where our food comes from.

2). The two research themes that I wanted to look into were Joel Salatin and monocultures. Last year I took AP Environmental Science and have watched several movies like this during the class. So a lot of the information that was mentioned I had already known as well as some of the people mentioned.
Joel Salatin was in a previous movie that I watched before and I can remember being really interested in learning about his farm and practices but I never took the initiative to do some research. So when I saw him I decided to learn more. In Fresh he mentioned that his parents found the cheapest and most worn out farm and bought it. His father had experts come in and they told him that he should try to use industrial practices of growing foods such as corn (basically encouraging monocultures). His father decided to go against what the people were telling him he should do. Joel, who is a third generation farmer, returned to the farm to work full-time in 1982. He continued to refine and add to his parent’s ideas and methods. Today his farm services over 5,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants. In the movie he talked about how todays farming practices are all about being “faster, bigger, and cheaper.” Today it is about getting as much out of a yield as possible. Each day Joel has his animals move from different fields to graze and fertilize the grass. He believes that herbivores should be eating grass unlike what the industrial companies are giving like chicken feed or meat from cows. Joel has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English. He has used his degree to spread his message in magazines like Stockman Grass Farmer, Acres USA, and Foodshed. His farm has also been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Gourmet, and a variety of other types of media.
I also quickly researched monocultures to refresh my memory. Monocultures are a large area of farm land that is growing a single crop, it uses methods that include large machinery and chemicals (pesticides and herbicides). By growing the same type of crop in one area over time it becomes more susceptible to diseases and creates negative feedback cycles. Some of the insects or pests have become immune to some pesticides so they have to layer more onto the crops. Monocultures also deplete the nutrients in the soil making it harder to farm. What should happen instead of monocultures is planting one crop in the field for a season then cultivating it and replanting the field with a different crop so there is diversity.

·       Joel Salatins Farm Website:  

3). While in class I really enjoyed learning about what people researched on Will Allen and what he does. Watching the film you could see how enthusiastic he was about what he is doing and how eager he is to teach other people. Learning more about his past and his goals for Growing Power made me appreciate what he does for his community even more. 

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