The issue of sustainability versus factory farming has been a tricky one to get across to folks in the non-farming community. Industry has been so good at adopting the language of sustainable agriculture and applying it to their own crappy products. So now so-called “organic” grains and foods are readily available, coming to U.S. stores from all over the world with no traceability. The big-box stores carry “free-range” animal products, not warning consumers that “free-range” has no legal definition. The same is true of “natural” products and even, sometimes, of “local” produce. If it’s sold in a big-box store, buyer beware.

Still, there are ways for farmers to work with land and improve it, getting rid of chemicals in their system and treating land, animals, human workers and resources with respect and fairness. In fact, many studies have shown that small farms produce more food per acre than large ones and, in total, feed twice as many people!

You need to know your farmer, ask questions and even visit the farm to see that things are being done the way you want. Here are links to a few good examples: