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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Nutrition Perspective

For my documentary I ended up choosing Sustainable 2016 directed and written by Matt Wechsler. The main point of it was to examine the current agriculture society we have today. It starts off with an interview with Chef Rick Bayless. Rick had gone on a trip to Mexico and realized that in Mexico there was a more apparent connection where the food was coming from. However out in America the connection to where the food was coming from was a mysterious. There seemed to be this sense of distancing from consumers to where our food source was. This is what sparked a question for Rick, where was our food coming from, why is there this distance.

The documentary then goes onto introduced us to Marty Travis. He’s our main person, and is the focal point of the documentary. Marty is a farmer from Illinois. He’s a firm believer of having that direct relationship with who he was supplying food with. He delivered his products to 26 different restaurants, and he thoroughly enjoyed the interactions he had with the owners. The chefs and restaurants were happy to know that they were getting their product directly. Back in the day there was that direct relationship with the suppliers and the consumers. There weren’t as many restaurants but the food was grown more local. With the improvement and innovations with transportation and technology it completely changed our agriculture. We were able to maintain food for longer times without spoilage. We were able to deliver longer distances. This improvement in technology, is what created the distancing from our food source. There were good reasons on why we switched to these improvements though.

After the industrial revolution we stopped focusing on the quality of things. Instead we had an increased focus on maximizing profits. This lead to the whole quantity over quality debate. The more we produce the more money we would be making.  At the time it made sense, economically we were becoming more efficient and we were maximizing profits. However focusing on this high yield mentality was very damaging to our soil.

When cultivating our agriculture we have to take in account how we are treating the environment. We’ve already seen what happens when we don’t take proper care of it when we look at past events. We could take a look at the Mesopotamian society on how improper care of the soil can be very damaging to society. A more recent example is the dust bowl. Due to poor practices and other factors it devastated the land. This poor practices in return came back to haunt us. We need to start exercising better practices of cultivating the land. A good example of proper care of the environment would be crop rotation. There are many benefits of crop rotations. The biggest pro in my opinion would be that it helps the soil. There are many nutrients and other things that play a part in crops that exist in the soil. By sticking to a minimal variety of crops, we are overusing the nutrients and not allowing enough time for the soil to recover.

However by switching up the crop rotation and putting in more variety it betters the soil health. With better soil health, we get a better yield of crops. The soil and the crops are also better able to withstand harsh conditions. This means with better soil health we have a more stable and reliable farmland.

Many people argue that sustainable food is more expensive, and is not as effective as large productions of food. However the documentary goes to argue that sustainable food sources are better in the long run as it’s better quality and it creates a healthier environment. A good argument they bring up for how damaging our current agriculture ways is the deadzone off the Gulf of Mexico. Because a lot of the chemicals that our used in our farms in the mid-east (by the Mississippi river) eventually led it’s a way to this part of the ocean. The chemicals ended up killing a lot of aquatic life, as the water was too toxic. These toxic runoff don’t only affect the aquatic life, but our communities as well. There’s been numerous reports of different water sources being too toxic.

This toxicity is often times caused by the runoff of water and chemicals we use on our farms. We need to take this into consideration when we are thinking about what’s best for the future of agriculture.

These bad farming practices was never really the farmers fault. When the industrial revolution came about there was this constant push to produce the most possible.

There was no real science behind the most environmentally friendly practices back then. We were focused on quantity over quality. There’s a large water source in the midwest underground called the Ogallala Aquifer. This water source is a big source of water for farms in the midwest. However with current agriculture practices it is predicted that we’ll only have that water source for another 20 years. Again we got to think about our practices in the long run.

Mark grows his crops chemical free, and incorporates rotational crops. This has led to a better quality of production. He’s not focused on making the largest profit, but instead seeks to have better quality of food.  Another thing I admire about Mark is that he seems to really have a genuine connection with his suppliers. He grows a lot of crops and then goes to sell it to the local community such as restaurants. This allows him to have that connection he seeks, while at the same time he is giving the community a more organic type crops.

The documentary goes onto to talk about the argument that exists in the agriculture community. We have one side who believes in chemistry and that’s what yields the highest. While on the other we have a more organic standpoint and they argue biology and soil is what really matters. Industrial side seems to argue that organic can’t feed the world. However data has shown that in comparison the yields are the same.

Organic farms seem to do better in harsh conditions such as drought, where there is a 31% better yield. The problem though that got us into this mess though is we used yields as the measure of our success. This led us to the short term problems when we should be focusing on the health of the land as that’s long term. In conclusion we should shift to a more organic way of farming.

The documentary was directed and written by Matt Welchser. However Matt wasn’t the main source of information. I’d argue it’s Marty Travis credentials we should evaluate. He’s been working on his family farm as a kid and he sees the direct impact our agriculture practices has on society. I would say his opinion is valid and is something we should take into consideration.

The documentary was published recently as it was released June 4, 2016. The points it makes are still very valid today. Not much change has happened since the release, it’s a problem we are still working on. We are still very focused on industrial type of agriculture. We might have a bigger awareness for the problem, but not much action has happened. We still need to take into consideration the points the documentary made.

It’s recommended that we eat fresh fruits and vegetables. The documentary showed the positives of eating a more organic diet. Something free of any chemicals. Another thing I thought was interesting was that we’re encouraged to eat a variety of mixed diet. In terms of proper agriculture practices, we do crop rotation. Crop rotation can help us eat a varied diet as we are incorporating more plants.  This helps create a balanced diet we need. GMOS are a big part of our food source, in the documentary it seems like it was against that idea. The documentary seems to argue that we need variety as it helps create a diverse crop, to where one pathogen wouldn’t kill it all. The documentary also states that soil health is what we should focus on. Argues that organic food is better quality than GMOS. However we are taught that GMOS are regulated to what degree it can be altered. I would also like to mention that GMOS have some positives, as we can create crops that are immune to those pathogens.

I learned a lot about the current state of our agriculture practices in America.  It is eye-opening to realize that there is that distant between knowing where our food source is coming from. However I do believe that it’s more efficient as we do have a growing population.  I would like to see better agriculture practices, as the state of our farmland matter. One thing I want to carry out from this document, is being more curious on where my food is coming from. Because as of right now I don’t question where my food is coming from. I’m also going to try more organic food, and see if I could notice a difference in my life.


Works Cited

Wechsler, Matt. “Sustainable (2016)”, performance by Marty Travis, Rick Bayless, Hourglass Films, 4 June. 2018.

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