Ask any resource for a definition of “sustainable agriculture” and a focus on enhancing the quality of life for farmers, their workers, and their communities will always come up.

Quality of life, as a broad concept, can mean many things. For farmers, it means profitability, because sustainable agriculture, by definition, must yield a living wage. By extension, any workers the farmer hires are also assured a living wage. For communities, quality of life applies to the quality of the food we consume. (The National Academies Press)

How does sustainable agriculture enhance our quality of life with food?

A core foundation to sustainable agriculture is that it must viably produce enough food to accommodate a given population. If a farm doesn’t yield a large enough harvest to feed all the people in that community, then it is not considered sustainable. The first way sustainable agriculture aids our quality of life is by ensuring we will all have enough to eat. (Northeast Share)

Sustainable farms also have to think long term: the focus can’t only be on this years’ harvest, because next year is just around the corner. A sustainable farm must take into consideration soil conditions and how to keep the earth healthy enough to consistently yield crops year after year. As a community, our quality of life is improved when farmers take care to preserve the earth.

Beyond the amount of food and the preservation of soil, sustainable agriculture improves our quality of life by providing food that is better for us. Many of the practices used in sustainable agriculture to preserve the soil—like Integrated Pest Management, Managed Grazing, and Nutrient Management—also keep our food clean, wholesome, and toxin-free. (USDA)

A McDonald’s might be closer to you than your local farm, but there’s nothing on a drive-thru menu that can compare to the nutritious, earth-conscious, and body-conscious products of sustainable agriculture.