Compare and Contrast – Monoculture vs Diverse Farming
In “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan we follow the story of our food, from the shelves, all the way back to it’s origins, for both plant and animal based meals. In this very interesting and informative book we learn many things about processed foods and organic food production from source where it all starts: The farm. On the farms visited by Mr. Pollan there are 2 very different methods used. The first would be with George Naylor who only grows 2 crops. The second of which would be the farm of Joel Salatin who has a very diverse farm and a very different approach to farming. Let’s take a look at the methods used and practices employed by each farm and see how each approach benefits or harms each farmer
On George Naylor’s 470-acre farm there is a monoculture approach taken. Only 2 crops are grown, Corn and Soy, which are sure to sell thanks to government subsidy. On the other hand, we meet Joel Salatin who is a pastoral farmer with many plants and animals growing there including “chicken, beef, turkeys, eggs, rabbits, and pigs, plus tomatoes, sweet corn, and berries on one hundred acres of pasture patchworked into another 450 acres of forest” (125). Salatin’s approach does not rely on processing companies or the government and deals mainly with local business to keep itself afloat.
While comparing these two farmers another big difference between them and their farming methods would be the way they keep their crops growing. Since Naylor only grows 2 crops he relies heavily on chemical fertilizers to ensure the growth and yields needed to sustain his farm as well as pesticides to make sure no unwanted bugs which would harm his crops are present. While both chemical fertilizers and pesticides are effective, they are also costly, this problem seems to have been solved by Salatin’s pastoral approach. Since Polyface Farm has grass for the cattle to graze on and in the process leave their droppings behind, the soil stays naturally fertilized. The cattle are then followed by letting the chickens roam the grounds and as he puts it “They'd picked the tasty grubs and fly larvae out of the...