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Organic Farming: The Path to a Sustainable Future

Gary Hirshberg, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Stonyfield Farms came to Bentley University on October 15th, 2011 to speak about his company, but more importantly—the past, present, and future of organic farming.
Stonyfield Farms began twenty six years ago with only seven cows. Now it is the world’s number one supplier of organic foods, specifically yogurt. The company’s recorded annual sales are $360 million.
Hirshberg spoke in-depth about running a sustainable company while still making a profit. He focused his speech on organic farming and discussed his views on how organic farming is the future of our food supply. 70 years ago, there was no such thing as pesticides and chemically engineered plant fertilizers. All of our crops have been grown organically since the 1940s. Organic farming today makes up only 3.5% of the U.S. food production, but has been recorded to be $23.5 billion in sales. Pesticides had not yet been present, but today, people view organic farming as something new, revolutionary, and most importantly—expensive.
 “As a culture and as a society we have lost sight of what real food is. We are not ready to pay for it. We have this illusion that food not only can, but should be, cheap. I call it an illusion because we do end up paying for it, through our bodies and also our planet”, said Hirshberg. By consuming unhealthy foods that are coated with pesticides and made up of genetically modified organisms (GMOS’), we are paying for the difference in cost and then some later on.
41% of U.S. citizens will contract cancer in their lifetime. The way to change this statistic is to consume foods that are not produced with chemicals. As Hirshberg states in his interview with Fast Company, “they don’t appear on our income statement, but they’re real costs.” One in three children born after 2000 will be a diabetic and for Hispanics or African Americans, this statistic is as high as one in two children.
Today, two thirds of Americans are suffering from obesity. These are the consequences of cheap foods and in the long run they are not at all cheap. As a nation we are spending billions of dollars to deal with these health issues yet people aren’t paying close attention to the root of the problem.
There are thousands of reasons why people should eat organic, but there is only one reason why they shouldn’t, and that is cost. Hirshberg stated in his interview with Rodale Institute, “The policies of the second half of the 20th century failed to recognize the value of promoting healthy soils, the value of giving farmers an adequate income, and the value of not poisoning our land, water and air with toxins. A million farmers have gone under, and we have enormous water depletion and toxification issues.” The types of foods we consume need to be at the forefront of our minds.

The way our food is produced is what’s poisoning our bodies. Genetically modified foods have taken over the food production chain and this is causing long term consequences to our health and quality of life. People today have become so far removed from how our food is being produced. We need to go back in time to the core of our roots. We need to recreate the days where our food was grown organically in fields with natural fertilizers and soils. The food created in the science labs through cell modification isnot a natural means of producing food for human consumption. Food production needs to become a process of nature, not science.
 “We are what we eat, but more importantly, we are what we buy.” – Gary Hirshberg.

Hirshberg, Gary. “Gary Hirshberg: Organic CE-Yo.” Rofale
Institute . Interview. Web. <http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20110908_gary-hirshberg>.
Hirshberg, Gary. “Inventing a Win-Win-Win_Win Future.”
Raytheon . 175 Forest Street, Waltham , MA. 10/18/2011. In Person. <http://legacy.bentley.edu/cbe/>.
“Meet our CE-Yo.” Stonyfield Organic. Stonyfield Farm, Inc.,
2011. Web. 31 Oct 2011. <http://www.stonyfield.com/about-us/our-story-nutshell/meet-our-ce-yo>.
Schomer, Stephanie. “Eat-onomics With Gary Hirshberg, CEO
09 02 2010. Web. 31 Oct 2011. <http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/stephanie-schomer/write/qa-gary-hirsberg….

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