Earth Day and Irish Agriculture
Happy Earth Day, everyone!
In honor of this important day, we wanted to take a moment to talk about the origins of Earth Day and its importance in sustainable agriculture and organic food growing in Ireland.
The first official Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and was rooted in conservationist and environmental movements of the 1960s and '70s. These movements coalesced around a shared belief that humans had a responsibility to protect the planet and its resources, especially from detrimental human interference like the DDT formerly used in agriculture that wreaked havoc on the environment. The driving forces behind the first Earth Day railed against the idea of large corporations damaging the environment and killing the planet's biodiversity. The first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million Americans and is now recognized as a global event. Every year since then, people around the world have come together to celebrate our planet and take action to protect it.
As conservation movements gained support and environmental science expanded into public consciousness, more people began to feel a sense of urgency - and more importantly, agency - in the need to preserve our shared natural resources. Sustainability became a more complex way of considering our social, political, and financial trade-offs and interactions with our environment. Through the lens of conservation and sustainability, activists and concerned citizens have pushed for many revolutionary regulations, laws, and policies that protect our environment today.
Around the world, and in Ireland, food producers began to reconsider the conventional overuse of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. In 1982, the Irish Organic Association was established, which is one of Ireland's leading organic associations and is the preeminent certification body. In the years since, organic food production has become more mainstream as people have become more interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced. More recently, shoppers and consumers have begun to reconsider their role in globalised commerce and are turning away from imported produce in support of a more sustainable, localised food system.
Did you know that organic farming is the fastest-growing sector of Irish agriculture? It's true! And Earth Day is an important part of that growth.
Although organic farming is still a small percentage of Irish agriculture, the organic movement is growing every year thanks to increased support and a forward-focused shift in environmental discourse. The old banners of conservation and protection are being replaced with goals of regeneration and sustainability through more active and optimistic engagement in environmentalism as complex interrelated systems. The new wave of optimism and sense of agency associated with making sustainable choices makes a big difference - we see how small steps make ripple effects. Every year, more people are interested in organic and locally grown food as part of a sustainable lifestyle - and a more resilient and ecologically-friendly food system. Earth Day is a great opportunity to learn more about how the complex networks of agriculture, supply chains, policy, and consumer behavior all play a role in the organic movement.
How will you be celebrating Earth Day this year? We hope you'll take some time to think about the origins of this important day and how local, organic produce is an important part of being sustainable on Earth Day and every day.