Posted on 24 July 2009 by

Big Agriculture Field Sanitation – Another Reason to Grow Your Own

industrial-agricultureBy Vanessa Richins

Over the past few years, we’ve heard the stories about deadly problems like E.coli showing up in our food.

New regulations are in the works to revamp the food safety guidelines and try to lessen the chances of future outbreaks.

However, as sometimes happens, some companies are now going overboard as they attempt to make food safer, requesting strict growing conditions from their farmers.

A coworker posted an intriguing link about this on his Facebook page.

Farmers report that they are having to keep a “sterile buffer” zone around all their plants. They can’t have any plants, insects or animals in the border around their field. They also may remove ponds in the area.

I thought this very strange. As I posted on Facebook and Twitter, this is just an exercise in futility. Nature happens. It’s unreasonable to expect land to remain untouched from any other plants, insects, birds, or other wildlife without some harsh controls. In fact, as some scientists think, these buffers could cause more problems, not less.

As explains, “Some science suggests that removing vegetation near field crops could make food less safe. Vegetation and wetlands are a landscape’s lungs and kidneys, filtering out not just fertilizers, sediments and pesticides, but also pathogens. UC Davis scientists found that vegetation buffers can remove as much as 98 percent of E. coli from surface water. UC Davis advisers warn that some rodents prefer cleared areas.”

As the article further shows, having a dirt barrier removes a way to keep some pollution from entering streams.

I am glad that they are trying to take food safety seriously. However, it seems like they may be heading towards disaster. I see this as yet another reason to grow your own. You can make sure your food is grown in a safe manner that creates less possibilities for disease, not more.

It’s also good to support your smaller local farmers and shop at the farmer’s market when possible. These small farms won’t have the same restrictions as those supplying the major companies.

What do you think of these “sterile buffer zones”?

One Response to “Big Agriculture Field Sanitation – Another Reason to Grow Your Own”

  1. Kristen Says:

    This freaks me out. It always seems like we leap before we look on stuff like this. Pour pesticides on to kill the bugs, and no one thinks that it might kill people too (not to mention the ecosystem of good bugs). Remove all the buffer zone and what do you think will happen? This isn’t hard to logic through. If I don’t have a barrier to the garden, my kids will kick soccer balls there all day long. If I don’t have a barrier then animals get in more easily. This just seems so illogical. I am feeling very grateful for my 10×13 plot growing veggies for me!

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