Before industrialisation and capitalism led to large-scale and intensive farming, more circular and mixed farming methods were used which saw waste products (e.g. animal waste) used as inputs (e.g. fertiliser for crops).
Moving away from these methods saw farmers more reliant on chemicals for various purposes and producing food with lower nutritional quality.
Organic alone is not necessarily the answer; nutrients in soil can still become depleted unless farmers work with an awareness of agroecology – keeping things in a more natural state of balance and integration, in a sustainable farming system.
The global meat and dairy industry is particularly harmful for the environment. Land clearance for livestock farming has drastically reduced tree cover and other natural habitats; cattle themselves add to greenhouse gases; as do the fuel-hungry processes for transporting goods around the globe. It was reported in July 2018 that meat and dairy would surpass the oil industry in planetary pollution.
Tackling the 35 corporations responsible for this particular piece of the climate crisis is the work of governments, but consumers have a role too. Buying locally, responsibly, carefully produced food lowers your personal carbon footprint, improves your health and supports the local economy.