Grow food — not lawns?
Big agri-business, and Monsanto in particular, would have us believe that the earth will undoubtedly encounter a food shortage in the very near future if it were not for their genetically modified (GM) plants that can thrive despite being doused in chemicals that were developed to kill plants.
In the modern world of agriculture, a farm operation has to be large to be financially successful. Gone, or soon to be gone, are the small farms run by a single family.
There is a movement afoot called Grow Food — Not Lawns. This group encourages people to grow their own food wherever they can, even if it means replacing their front lawns with vegetable gardens.
Everywhere you look there are large expanses of trim and perfectly uniform grass. If our food supply was truly as at risk as Monsanto would have us believe, would we really be wasting all this valuable land on lawns?
The real motivation for most of these home gardeners is not ensuring the world doesn’t run out of food. It is ensuring that their own food is of the best possible quality. To many home gardeners this means avoiding genetically modified plants, herbicides and pesticides.
Here’s a small sampling of nutritional differences found in a report called 2012 Nutritional Analysis: Comparison of GMO Corn versus Non-GMO:
There are currently 4 GM crops grown in Canada — corn, soy, canola, and white sugar beets (Canadian Biotechnology Action Network). Little research has been done regarding the safety of GM crops for human consumption long term, but some animal studies are starting to raise concerns. Health Canada does not require mandatory labelling of GM foods unless studies have proven them to be hazardous to human health. Labelling of GM products is encouraged on a voluntary basis only.
You may be thinking that it is easy to avoid corn, soy, canola and white sugar beets but the truth is, it’s harder than you think. Most livestock are fed corn, much of which is GM. This means the toxins they consume are stored in the animal’s tissue and passed on to us when we eat the meat. Not only that, the vast majority of processed foods contain corn in some form, and with no mandatory labelling, we can never be sure if we are eating GM corn or not.
Monsanto provides significant funding to university agricultural programs throughout North America and beyond. It also provides education to farmers and for many this may be their main source of ongoing education. Could this be causing a knowledge bias?
If your neighbor starts digging up the lawn to replace it with vegetables, don’t be put off by the perceived unattractive appearance, but welcome it as this may be a new beginning for small family farms of the future.
Camille Meub is a community correspondent for La Salle. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org