Trese talks sustainable agriculture
By Emily Smith, CG News
Wednesday afternoon, students and Athens community members were invited to attend a discussion led by Dr. Arthur Trese at the Front Room Coffeehouse about sustainable agriculture.
Trese, an associate professor at Ohio University in the environmental and plant biology department, provided attendees with an overview of what sustainable agriculture is and how individuals can contribute to it.
The term “sustainable agriculture” can often lead people to wonder what can make agriculture sustainable. Trese said that sustainable agriculture essentially has three facets: environmental sustainability, social sustainability, and financial sustainability.
Trese said environmental sustainability is concerned with how farmers can utilize their land in a healthy way for the environment without degrading the land to the point where it becomes unusable space.
Social sustainability is concerned with how agricultural practices benefit society and the people the agriculture serves, Trese said. Although farmers may claim to be sustainable in the way they are raising their chickens for consumption, what may be financially stable for a producer may simultaneously degrade the quality of the product, making the product less healthy for the consumer.
Lastly, Trese said if people cannot afford a product that is sustainable, then the product is not financially sustainable. A product is only financially sustainable if consumers decide to support it, he said.
Trese also presented a chart, which showed the percentages of budget used on food for people in the last 80 years. . In 1929, the chart showed families spending about 20 percent of their budget on food while in 2008 families spent about 10 percent on food. The chart included food from the store as well as restaurants.
Food prices have gone down in part because of corn, wheat, and soy being grown on a massive scale, Trese said.
Some companies are realizing that America does want a different kind of agriculture. Trese said a common example is Chipotle, a company that separated from McDonald’s and has since been utilizing agricultural practices that are more sustainable for the environment.
Trese said he recommends that people shop at farmers markets. He said it is one of the best ways to support local producers, and not only will the produce be cheaper, but it will also have a fresh, great taste.
Because farmers need more than one crop in case another fails, producing multiple kinds of crops can be agriculturally sustainable because it makes the soil itself more diverse and nutritious, Trese said.
“Local agriculture is going to be diverse agriculture,” he said.