"The Environmental Cost of Growing Food"
Dan Charles, NPR
The crops and environments experiencing intense degradation discussed in this article are characterized by a mismatch between crop requirements and environment. In both Florida and Colorado, the environment must be altered to fit sugar cane and sugar beets respectively. The result is a tragic degree of soil degradation and drought. These vignettes highlight the importance of CFFP’s research on rotational cropping. Rotational cropping requires and upholds the farmer’s deep knowledge of microclimates and land to choose crops that suit the land, and vise versa.
The author showcases two sugar-producing crops, Sugar Cane and Sugar Beets, to demonstrate the environmental costs of food. Most sugar cane in the United States is grown in Florida, which requires the draining of everglade marshes and swamps. Eventually, the living soil that has been preserved under swamp waters for generations is depleted through industrial sugar cane production. In Colorado where sugar beets are grown, dry grasslands are tilled and irrigated to prepare for planting. Irrigation especially diverts water from rivers like the Big Thompson away from natural ecosystems and reduces biodiversity in the region.
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