Local Farmers Called to Sustainable Practices

Written By: Kate Strickland

Lancaster county consumers call for sustainability, effecting both farmers and other producers in the county

Consumers in the Lancaster area have called for sustainably, and Kreider Farms has been one of the first to answer.

Kreider Farms, a family-owned Manheim farm, has become the first farm on the east coast to become certified by the National Animal Welfare Organization. Their products are now able to be marketed as “American Humane Certified” boosting not only their profits but their clientele.

Photo displays a local farm
Photo By: Kate Strickland

Farmers in the Lancaster area are noticing a growth in consumers wanting ethical practices when pertaining to the food they are consuming. Getting new certifications and becoming more sustainable has been a hot topic in the farming community, and has caused an uptick in prices as well.

Keeping up with the consumers’ needs means forcing new practices onto farmers, dealing with large amounts of paperwork, and even purchasing new equipment all of which cost time and money. Consumers making sustainable demands will be faced with price increases.

Millersville professor, Lexi Hutto, described this trend of sustainability as “here to stay” in an interview she did with Lancaster Online. Hutto describes the trend to be popular specifically with the younger generations. She holds social media and internet use accountable for the recent demand for sustainability.

Hutto goes on to talk about how the younger generations of today’s society put much emphasis on healthy living and eating. She connects this with Instagram and the influencers who share their healthy eating and lifestyles with their millions of followers.

Sara Dawon, a professor at Franklin & Marshall College recognizes this new trend as well. She references “Silent Spring” a book written back in 1962 about pesticides and their environmental impacts and how this relates to today’s practices.

Photo displays cage free chickens- their eggs are more expensive
Photo By: Kate Strickland

The book written in 1962 sparked change in America after millions of birds died from the harmful pesticide’s farmers were using on their crops. The book was eye opening to the American public when realizing if the chemicals were strong enough to kill birds, they were obviously strong enough to harm humans as well. Regulations and changes were put into place upon publishing the novel.

Don Ranck, the Lancaster County Farm Bureau’s President highlights some of the changes Lancaster county farmers have been making in the last 50 years. He recognizes the change in livestock and crop practices all while keeping the environment and community in mind. He also notes that not all farms have to obtain expensive certificates in order to be sustainable.

Ranck goes on to say that those who do get certifications, such as Kreider Farms, can sell their products at higher prices. The same is true for products labeled organic, or grass-fed. The more labels a product has the higher it sells for.

Image By: Kate Strickland

The price tag may scare many consumers away, particularly those shopping on a budget. Buying strictly organic, grass-fed, or other products with certifications is an investment in your health, as well as an investment that farmers make when raising, or growing the products.

Emily Moose, a spokeswoman for A Greener World states in an interview with Lancaster Online, “What’s the point of having a food label if what’s underneath is the same as everything else?”

Photo displays organic veggies, hormone free chicken, and local farmers market goods
Photo By: Kate Strickland

The line between finding what products are worth paying extra for and which aren’t is sometimes blurry to many consumers. Those who buy foods just for their label could be overpaying for something that another farmer has just without the label. Creating a more sustainable environment requires growth and transparence both from the consumer and the producer. Lancaster county will continue its efforts to provide sustainable practices for the community.

Timeline By: Kate Strickland

What Are GMOs?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. To break this down these organisms are basically made in a lab where they were able to be broken down and genetically engineered into the perfect crop. Taking corn for example- if GMO engineers take corn DNA into a lab and modify it in a way that would make it the best piece of corn ever, they would be creating a chemical that would make corn grow bigger, juicer, and even affect the flavor and color. GMO engineers can do many different things to the crops; however the question of safety is almost always called into question with GMOs. When people purchase food that is non-GMO the color may not be as great and the size might not be as large, however, the product is more natural- which costs more because natural crops are harder to keep alive because genetically modified crops are made to fight disease, insects, etc.

What Classifies as Organic?

The United States Department of Agriculture classifies organic foods based on a number of specific criteria. Organic foods must be grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied to it for three years before planting crops. Most of the USDA prohibited substances include synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which means that the soil for organic fruits and veggies may not be as rich because it is more natural and the crops will be more exposed to pests and disease. Organic almost always costs more to grow because the farmers lose a lot more of their crop compared to if they would not growing organic. The extra price you pay makes up for the lost revenue and the time and energy that goes behind growing organic

Sarah S. Dawson is a professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. She has her PhD in Philosophy of Wildlife Biology from Utah State University. At Franklin and Marshall, she is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Environment and spends most of her time researching subsequent behavioral decisions. In simpler terms she researches risk assessment strategies. In her interview with Lancaster Online she referenced the novel Silent Spring and its discussion about pesticides. Her main area of study included behavioral syndromes so referencing silent spring would make sense for her areas of expertise. Sarah is involved in many environmental causes and likes to advocate for a sustainable environment.

Photo provided by Franklin & Marshall College

Dr. Lexi Hutto is a Millersville University professor who specializes in marketing. Dr. Hutto joined Millersville back in 2013 with multiple degrees and a PhD from the University of Pittsburg. Dr. Hutto has years of experience in the marketing industry after spending years on research boards and as senior consultants for bigger organizations. Along with being a professor at Millersville University Hutto has written multiple articles and journals, as well as spends time speaking at conferences across the United States. Hutto was interviewed by Lancaster Online on the topic of sustainability. As she offers opinions from the marketing stand-point she also gave some interesting insights into sustainability in younger people.

Photo provided by Millersville University


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