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Our Polluted Farmlands

Updated on June 23, 2014

Not Your Grandfather's Farm Anymore

Most of the foods that we get are from farms. The type of farms that we have now are mostly mechanized large factory farms. Our folk myth is of the bucolic family farm with the old hound dog Blue a cow named Buttercup and a barn cat named Tom. Even the names of the companies evoke something out of an imagined past other that what is the reality. Sun Valley, Spring Lake, and other fanciful names.

The factory aspect of the farm does like any other factory and puts out pollution. In the case of these farms the pollution is in the form of animal waste and chemical pesticides which pollutes their neighbors land and water. People leave the cities trying to find solace and a life free of pesticides. Unfortunately these agri-factories prevent this. You might find yourself in a more polluted rural environment than you did in the suburbs or city.

The process we use now in farming makes it harder to track down when there is an e-coli, salmonella or listeria outbreak. Products are being shipped to and from different states and the world. Many different farms, techniques and shipping destinations are involved.

Even bees are having a hard time surviving in the country due to the pesticides and mono-crops which is thought to be causing the hive collapse.They are found now in thriving hives in more urban areas on rooftops where they have more variety. Some poultry farms are even being blamed for adding to the increase in the bed bug epidemic. These bugs have been found in droves in the chickens coops and are being dispersed by the workers on their clothes.

Animal Waste

An Ick Factor

The recent outbreak of listeria in cantaloupes reminded us of the dangers that can lurk in food. The manure from farm cows and pigs seem to find their way into the produce we eat. Sometimes it is the packing facility that is the cause of the contamination or they get contaminated in transport. But more than likely some pathogens probably started out in the fields.

Untreated manure can be on the land before the crops are planted or as fertilizer. Wildlife, pets or farm animals can leave droppings as they infiltrate the crop area. Cross contamination by equipment and people. Irrigation using contaminated water, winds and rain causing manure stockpiles to move to crop areas or water.

Human waste can also occur if the working conditions are so bad that the pickers have no where to relieve themselves or are not allowed to leave the fields. Filth might find its way into the food chain from this.

Contamination of the groundwater happens when there is too much manure spread on the soil and goes into the ground and reaches the aquifer. Peoples wells will be contaminated from this and the mismanagement of trash and garbage.

Untreated animal waste can be dangerous in its wet form. It can be dried and used as fuel in place of wood or as a product in biogas. Manure can be placed in a separate compost bin or burned and eventually used on the soil.

Recycle Animal Waste

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Farm Pollution Just Doesn't Stay Put

Flooding Helps it Migrate

After devastating tsunamis and hurricanes human and animal survivors are sometimes found on distant shores. Large debris fields from these same disasters travel many miles carrying with it whatever got swept up and became junk. During oil spills the oil not only sinks to the bottom it also travels to pollute other areas.

The aggressive Asian carp were swept out of fish farms into the greater waterway during floods and are creating havoc in these same waters. The floods that are happening with the Mississippi river is causing devastation to many people. Not the least is the putrid and toxic water that people find themselves surrounded by. This water was tested and found to have among other things garbage, farm waste, fertilizer and pesticides which can cause serious illnesses among the population especially children and elderly.

Great floods are noted in books that even pre date the Old Testament. The Mississippi is no stranger to rising. There are great many works of literature with a Mississippi leaving its banks as a backdrop.

During the great flood of 1927 it was decided that in order to save the city of New Orleans they needed to blow up a part of the levee. This would divert the waters from the major city and let the flood waters inundate the poor farmers of two rural parishes. They promised the people that they would be reimbursed for their homes and lands. Folks were only able to evacuate with whatever possessions and animals they could take with them. In the end very few they did not receive what was promised for all that they lost.

During this recent flood the floodgates that were set in place after the 1927 floods were opened to flood farmlands, homes and businesses. This time it was to save both the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans from a terrifying catastrophe. I cannot help wondering what becomes of the soil after being flooded with toxic waste filled waters.

Links With Information About the E Coli Outbreak

E coli (Escherichia coli) is a gram negative, anaerobic bacteria found in the lower intestines of animals and people. Most strains are harmless but some can make people ill and can cause death. Most sickness from this bacteria is from food. The food has to have come in contact with animal manure. It used to mostly be found in meats but due to farming practice that allows animal feces to come in contact with crops we see it in fruits and vegetables also. It can be killed with thorough cooking of your food item,

Poll on Pollution by Big Farms

Do You Agree That Factory Farms Are Polluting The Land

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Farmland Pollution

What Is Your Opinion of Farm Pollution?

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    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 7 years ago

      It's one of the great dangers of our time. Now we can see one unforeseen effect on it in the coastal waters around flooded Queensland (mentioned in the introduction of 'Floods in Australia' lens by 'skiesgreen'). However, it is an insidious disaster in itself, reducing biodiversity, shrinking ecology and directly strangling the food chain upon which we all depend. The tragedy is, whenever we buy non-organic food, we are funding and encouraging this peril.