Agroecology is a multi-system approach to create a truly sustainable food system. Along with the more common environmental, human health, economic, and even social concerns involved in “sustainability,” agroecology also seeks to include cultural and political systems in the search for a sustainable food system. Importantly, agroecology doesn’t necessarily even separate the food system from other agriculture, including the growing and production of fibers and pharmaceuticals in its studies. Other natural resource production– such as timber harvesting – are also addressed by many interested in agroecology. Agroecology does not prescribe single solutions of ecological or agriculture questions or problems. Because it considers such a wide range of issues, it seeks to recognize that each locale or region is going to have different sustainability issues. www.localfood.about.com
BioDynamics Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health. Both a concept and a practice, biodynamics “owes its origin to the spiritual insights and perceptions of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and scientist who lived at the turn of the century.” Dr. Steiner emphasized many of the forces within living nature, identifying many of these factors and describing specific practices and preparations that enable the farmer or gardener to work in concert with these parameters. “Central to the biodynamic method… are certain herbal preparations that guide the decomposition processes in manures and compost.”
Buying locally keeps money within the community, allowing for small and medium businesses to compete with larger businesses. It can refer to supporting local business and/or local producers. The definition of how far local means varies.
The GHG footprint, or greenhouse gas footprint, refers to the amount of GHG that are emitted during the creation of products or services. It is more comprehensive than the commonly used carbon footprint, which measures only carbon dioxide, one of many greenhouse gases. More
USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible. Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. As for organic meat, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones. For processed, multi-ingredient foods, the USDA organic standards specify additional considerations. Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions. When packaged products indicate they are “made with organic [specific ingredient or food group],” this means they contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients. The remaining non-organic ingredients are produced without using prohibited practices (genetic engineering, for example) but can include substances that would not otherwise be allowed in 100% organic products. As with all organic foods, none of it is grown or handled using genetically modified organisms, which the organic standards expressly prohibit Organic 101: What Organic Farming (and Processing) Doesn’t Allow