Large Agribusiness - Lower Quality, Less Variety
Lasting long distancesTypically, agri-businesses own large farmland plots and ship harvests across the country or internationally. In the U.S., food travels an average of 1500-2500 miles and 7-14 days to get to your plate.
How fruits and vegetables last the journey is by chemical preservatives, additives, and/or genetic-engineering that retards spoilage. More than half our tomatoes are harvested and shipped green, and then artificially ripened at their final destination.
Organic produce may not be grown using chemicals or genetic-engineering, so it usually comes from local producers by default. This is changing in recent years, however. (More...)
No varietyAs more of our food supply is controlled by fewer large corporations, our food selection inevitably decreases. Produce for transporting and exporting are determined by their durability to last the distance.
This has been the case in conventional farming over the past hundred years. With free agricultural trade, large agri-businesses around the world produce fewer types of fruits and vegetables and are supplying global markets the same varieties of durable "cash crops".
Ecologist and writer Gary Nabhan noted that the "transnational vending machine is illusory" in that we think we are gaining variety from trading internationally, but we are actually eating the same, few raw ingredients – just packaged, marketed and flavored differently.
Inexperienced farm stewardsAlso, as agri-businesses displace experienced farm owners with lower paid migrant workers, the soil quality degrades from basic misuse and improper care. Fostering naturally fertile soil and maintaining healthy eco-systems involves more than applying fertilizers and pesticides.
Local, organic farmsSmaller, local farmers have the experience and are conscientious about natural eco-systems and sustainability, and therefore plant more diverse crops. This produces the widest variety of fruits and vegetables, while naturally building soil health and disrupting the habitat for weeds and pests.
Ideas for Change
Organics - Quality