Has “green” thinking gone too far? Mike Rowe, speaking at the recent National FFA Convention, mentioned that the world may be wrong about making things green in a recent Agrinews article about the Dirty Jobs host. “Green maybe wasn’t the best color. Seems to me that brown would be better suited. Think about it, everything that’s green starts with something that’s brown, usually dirt. And if you were to scrape the dirt off of the farmers from coast to coast, you’ll find the greenest people on Earth. Not because they’re trying to save the world, but because sustainability is the best way for them to do their job.”
Those of us who breathe the air of farms and ranch know how “green” we really our. However, in an era of many activist organizations painting farmers as every color BUT green, we need to issue a wake-up call. As Rowe said “What if Sierra Club and Greenpeace aren’t seeing the whole picture? Maybe brown should become the new green.” We’re not likely to get the whole green movement to change their color, but perhaps we can connect the dots between the food and environmental movements since both are so hot.
For example, helping people understand environmental practices used on farms to produce safe food, help the environment and provide wildlife habitat. The World Agroforestry Center recently announced that 46% of the world’s farmlands have more than 10% tree cover. Their study showed that farmers are both protecting and planting trees simultaneously. In addition to products, trees help with soil erosion control, water quality and biodiversity. According to the Feedstuffs FoodLink article, “the extent of trees on farmland in North America and Europe is especially impressive given the large commercial agriculture sectors of these regions.”
Tomorrow’s Table recently published a piece about biotechnology that allows Bangladeshi farmers see up to 5 fold increase in rice yield during floods (as compared to conventional varieties). This is important because 4 million tons of rice, enough to feed 30 million people is lost each year to floods. Biotechnology, while rejected by many in the “green” world, actually provides nutrients to people AND reduces the amount of pesticides, labor and fuel used to grow food.
These are just two examples of how agriculture is green by tapping into the beauty of brown – soil (not dirt). Soil that gives life to all things green. What other ideas do you have about how farmers are green? Share them here – but more importantly, tell your friends about what you do in agriculture to be green!