There is a direct connection between agricultural practices and health.
Firstly, agriculture produces outputs that contribute to good health, such as the staple foods that sustain most of the developing world, but some agricultural outputs may also lead to ill health when contaminated. Second, agriculture interacts with the environment in a variety of ways that affect human health. Third, agriculture affects the income earned and labor supplied by people who work in the sector—both of which provide opportunities and risks for good health. In this post, the most common practices in agriculture will be compared and contrasted. These are industrial are organic and sustainable agriculture.
Industrial agriculture is a modern type of agriculture which requires high inputs of money and labor saving technologies such as using pesticides instead of weeding and operating heavy machinery for planting and harvesting. This type of agriculture is able to produce food in high volume but has little to no regard for the environment, soil and water quality, or food safety. In other words, industrial agriculture often trades the health of consumers and rural communities, as well as the nutritional quality of the product, for the maximization of profits by creating economies of scale through the mechanization of processes.
In industrial agriculture, intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides are required for the fields. The use of fertilizers can increase the salinity of the soil, making any available nutrients inaccessible to plants and therefore requiring the application of even more fertilizers. Pesticides may kill pests in a field, but they also kill beneficial insects. In addition, pesticides can sometimes get passed on through the food chain and affect other animals and the health of individuals.
Thus, industrial agriculture is harmful for the environment and for our health. In contrast, organic and sustainable agriculture focuses on mimicking natural ecological processes in a sustainable manner. This entails avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers for alternative natural methods such as organic compost or green manure. In terms of sustainability, farmers implementing organic farming focus on:
Reducing waste by efficiently using resources by nurturing the presence of organisms that can help control crop by killing pests;
Recycling resources by using the organic waste for compost or manure preparation;
Reusing resources such as water in farms through drainage reuse systems.