SANTA FE, N.M. — It’s easy to forget that, once upon a time, all agriculture was organic and grass-fed. Saving seeds, composting, fertilizing diverse crops with manure, not tilling and raising livestock entirely on grass was the norm over a century ago. Yet today, these are just the approaches we associate with sustainable food production.
We all know what happened as we modernized – the plow, the tractor, fossil fuels, monocrops, nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, feedlots, animal byproducts, e. coli, genetically modified organisms and erosion. We farmed faster, and we farmed more acreage. These are all practices and conditions that most Americans now consider “normal,” if they think about agriculture at all.
Fortunately, a movement to rediscover and implement “old” practices of bygone days has risen rapidly, abetted by innovations in technology, breakthroughs in scientific knowledge and tons of old-fashioned, on-the-ground problem-solving.