My Generation
30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Sustainability

30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Sustainability

Day 27: The very word "sustainability" makes me crazy, even while the premise itself does not.

I'll likely get in trouble for saying this but I'll do it anyway: I really dislike the word "sustainability."

The word has become fraught with politics and peril. Look around your grocery store, and particularly any large urban grocery, and you'll see it showing up on labels: "sustainably grown!" Throw sustainable in front of any noun and you suddenly have something that must surely be good, if only because it's preceded by sustainable.

Sustainable agriculture? Good! Sustainable lawn care? Good! Sustainable ant farming? Absolutely good!

Morning dawns on the farm, whether they talk "sustainable" or no.

Clearly, I'm a minority here, judging by the number of press releases flowing into my email inbox daily, which tout some sector of sustainable agriculture. Those same organizations used to talk about conservation. Now they talk about sustainability. And the result? It feels a little like a bandwagon.

I'm all for the premise, certainly. Farmers need to produce food in a way that sustains the earth's resources and makes it so we can continue to do so far into the future. Absolutely. Let's do that. And I would certainly allow that agriculture can do many things better. Farmers are a people who value the soil and its resources and want to take care of it, and they're learning new ways to do so every day. Let's figure out ways to "sustainably" source fertilizer without relying on those most unstable parts of the world. Let's continue installing filter strips and protecting water sources. Let's continue developing technology that lets us apply fertilizer and crop protection chemicals only where we need them. And let's continue funding organizations like soil and water conservation districts, which did sustainability before sustainability was cool. They're doing good work, and their offices are a skeleton of what they were 10 years ago, thanks to funding cuts.

But let's not let sustainability become like organic: a word that means little more than whatever message the user wants to convey. A marketing term, designed to deliver positive connotations. Words are important, and they are weakened when we use them improperly.

And back on the farm, let's keep working to conserve what we have and protect it for future generations. That's what a real steward of the land does, and what any real push for sustainability should be about. Whether they use the word or not.



The archives: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm

Kickoff: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm

Day 1: Working Kids

Day 2: Biotechnology

Day 3: Harvest Eats

Day 4: Church

Day 5: Biotechnology, Again

Day 6: Long Haul

Day 7: Hormones

Day 8: Weather

Day 9: Milk

Day 10: County Fairs

Day 11: Harvest

Day 12: Technology

Day 13: Show Ring

Day 14: Leave the Farm

Day 15: Dialogue

Day 16: Store Grain

Day 17: Love

Day 18: Kid Love             

Day 19: Straight Rows

Day 20: Antibiotics

Day 21: Bottle Calves

Day 22: Relationship

Day 23: Big Fun

Day 24: Dogs

Day 25: Family

Day 26: Cattle


More "30 Days" farm blogs

Looking for more 30 Days goodness? My Generation has friends and we're all blogging a "30 Days" series in November. Check out what these farm bloggers are talking about this month.

Beyer Beware: 30 Days, 30 Things You Never Knew About Food

Black Ink: Beef's a Trip - 30 Days from Gate to Plate

Confessions of a Farm Wife: 30 Days of Life on our Farm

Le Jardin da ma Vie: 30 Reasons Why I Love Being a Farmer's Wife

Go Go Bookworm: 30 Days of Farm Kid Stories

Kelly McCormick Photography: 30 Days of Thankfulness

Pinke Post: 30 Days of a North Dakota November

Go Beyond the Barn: 30 Days of Farm Life Blessings

Rural Route 2: 30 Days of the Not-So-Glamorous Life of This Farm Wife

Touching Families: 30 Days of a Town Girl Touched by the Farming Life

This Land, This Life, This Farmer's Wife: 30 Days of Thankfulness on a Family Farm

Farmgirldays: 30 Days of Farm Kids Trapped in the City

My Cows and Pigs: 30 Days of "What's that?"

Dennis Olmstead: 30 Days in a Row

White House on the Prairie: 30 Days, 30 Posts

A Colorful Adventure: 30 Days of JP

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