We need to rethink industrialized factory farming and quick. The agricultural revolution boomed back in the 18th Century which allowed the industrial revolution to change the world we lived in. So, this is a good thing with more access to food, food produced on higher levels and a decline in world hunger, right?
The agricultural revolution not only ruined the society humans had been living in for thousands of years, but it took our environment into a downward spiral that we may not fix in time. The agricultural revolution sparked war between mankind on drastic levels since it was one of the first times we as a species started assigning ownership to land.
If we weren't killing each other, the diseases spread by factory farming were. The domestication of animals was needed for living purposes, but on the massive levels we've allowed to be perceived as appropriate have caused an influx of diseases carried by our animal friends.
Influenza, TB, smallpox, Measles and even the common cold are all linked back to the domestication and farming of livestock. But let's argue for a second, the domestication and cultivation of animals in small populations allowed the human population to grow. That's great, we're living and able to reproduce at rates higher than we were dying.
But we were still dying. Hunter and gatherers shifted camps quickly and effectively. The quick rise in populations allowed us to establish villages and cities which ended up doing more harm than good. We created perfect living petri-dishes for microbes and diseases to spread. We may have been reproducing at large rates due to the advancements made with farming and domestication of meat, but death was occurring at the same rate. Our life-span declined drastically for a long time.
We've moved on from disease altering life-spans and have outsmarted microbes like the common cold and smallpox for the most part. What has factory farming done to the environment? Not only did we introduce foreign species of plants and grasses but we allowed our carbon footprint skyrocket with meat production worldwide having quadrupled in the last 50 years.
Globalagriculture.org breaks it down for us easily: in 2014 meat production reached a high of around 315 million tons. An estimation of 450 million tons will be produced by 2050 yearly. Cows, pigs and chickens, the top three livestock handled in factory farming, have increased by over 50% percent in population for each animal, chicken an upward of 114%.
In 2016, 164 million metric tons of CO2 and methane gasses were produced by livestock in the world, and meat makes up 47.6% of greenhouse gasses from average food consumption based on the factsheet produced by the University of Michigan in August 2016 for U.S. households.
So, what is the future of farming if we want to somehow protect our environment that is deteriorating away? The future of farming is: well... not any kind of farming we've become comfortable with. Farms are businesses, and ones that are becoming less and less valuable unless you're at the head of a factory farm rolling in the bundles of money you make. It's also clear that as a society we are obsessed with technology.
Our world is crying out for help in the way we've destroyed it, and our global size is demanding a new revolution in our agricultural system. The technology is here, we just need to stand behind it and support it. Companies like AeroFarms, FreightFarms, and BoweryFarming have the right idea.
They've taken farming on land and put it inside. Vertical farming is what we need, and it works. It allows produce to be aligned in a systematic way for the purest and cleanest forms to be grown. Conditions can be manipulated for produce to be grown all year long and without the use of pesticides and fertilizer since variables can be changed and controlled easily.
These farms are able to exist in any urban environment, unlike the agricultural system we have now that takes up hundreds of acres. Not only is it using less space, farming like this uses less resources too. Bowery states they use 95% less water than traditional agricultural farming and produce 100x more on the same footprint of land.
Less CO2 emissions, less harm with fertilizers and pesticides and a more effective urban setting with farming is what we need to help the environment. There would be less demand for deforestation, and species affected by pesticides like the bees and butterflies would be able heal.
Let's take a stance against factory farming and look at what we can do to change the way we're treating the world. Start buying from your local farmer's market, Oxford is a fantastic place to start. Findley Market isn't a far drive either! Decreasing your meat intake by even one day a week and combining it with buying produce at a local market and these steps with help us heal the environment we've ... well, trashed.