Recently the term "sustainable" has become really popular. It is defined by the UN as something that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Sustainable farming is one of the biggest areas of this movement—but what is it exactly?

I wanted to define sustainable farming once and for all, so I reached out to Hannah Sholder, an advocate for sustainable farming in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her great responses really showed me why this model of farming is the future of agriculture.

What is Sustainable Farming?

Sustainable farming is a way of raising animals and plants that is friendly to the environment, animal welfare, and the future. Most sustainable farms also produce food free of additives and chemicals that are bad for your health. Sustainable farms are drastically different from the industrial ones that make the produce you find in your grocery store.

According to Hannah, "the [industrial] system has kind of failed the people, and rather benefited those at the top of the massive [corporations] instead. And now it is only those with money who can evade this system and afford to buy good quality produce. In my mind... healthy food should be considered a human right."

Why is it Better?

Photo by Tim Wright | Unsplash

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One of the benefits for consumers who buy sustainably is that it helps them care about where their food is coming from, instead of just caring about the price of the food.

Hannah believes that "if you are buying produce from a local farmer, when you come face-to- face with that person you also consider their quality of life . . . and maybe something shifts in terms of your priorities of buying the cheapest product. It helps you see the system as a whole and better understand the repercussions of your own actions."

When it comes to animal rights, sustainable farming also treats its livestock way better. Industrial farms raise animals as cheaply as possible to get the most profit, which results in abuse. Smaller, sustainable farms usually allow animals to live freely, comfortably, and healthily. This results in a better quality of produce later on.

How Can I Help?

We live in a world where the best way to support a cause is with your dollars. Buying from local small farms is an action that directly supports the sustainable movement. Hannah says that "when you buy produce from other local producers you are also forging real connections and... better understand[ing] the path of production and your role in supporting the wellbeing of others."

So the next time you're craving some strawberries or a head of lettuce, go to a farmer's market if you can afford it. By supporting your local farmers, you also support the future of agriculture.