Morning Report: The Gulf Dead Zone

I was appalled when I heard the report this morning on NPR about the expanding “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an area of deep water in the Gulf where little, if anything, can live because of a steady stream of chemical run-off from industrial farming in the Midwest (the American “bread basket”) that runs down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico

Yes, it is frightening to hear about this dead zone expanding. Yes, I am happy that this issue is getting some national attention. I especially appreciated the analysis of government spending: even though there is some money to put toward “fixing” this problem, much more is spent in subsidies to keep agribusiness and industrial farming going… did you know your tax dollars are polluting the environment?

However, the part of the report that most irked me was the reference to this sort of industrial farming as “traditional.” What a joke, since industrial farming has only been around for the last 50 years, give or take. Traditional farming is what your local farmer does — raise animals and vegetables in a single, sustainable farm where all elements of the ecosystem benefit one another and do more good than harm to the environment.

I understand that producing food on the massive scale required to feed our population may not be able to be sustained entirely by this kind of farming (especially since farmers are decreasing steadily in number), but it is an insult to the institution to perpetuate the belief that our current, dominant food system is “traditional.”