Love fresh fruits and vegetables? You can thank a pollinator—the bees, butterflies, birds and even bats that move pollen from one flower to another, allowing plants to bear fruit and re-seed. While today, the majority of seeds for our foodshed are planted by farmers, pollinators are still responsible for one in every three bites of food taken in America (Source). Yet, even though pollinators are the (animal) worker bees of the food system, they are threatened by the use of conventional agriculture chemicals, landscaping pesticides, encroaching urban spaces, and the lack of planting diversity, among other things.
Agricultural helpers, bees are responsible for pollinating 90 percent of U.S. apple crops each year. Yet, they are in steep decline. According to a study by Auburn University and Maryland University, 40% of U.S. honey bees died unexpectedly in 2018, a 33% increase from the previous year (Source). And chemicals like dicamba are only making the problem worse; FERN reports that due to the weed killer’s use on genetically-modified crops, 2018 was the smallest crop in history for U.S. honeybee keepers (Source).
Unfortunately, birds are also feeling the effects of conventional agriculture chemical use. It is estimated that “of the roughly 672 million birds exposed annually to pesticides on U.S. agricultural lands, 10 percent, or 67 million, are killed as a result,” says Dr. Greg Harrison, a renowned avian health expert. “Just like in human health, birds and animals are affected by widespread usage of glyphosate and other toxic, synthetic pesticides.”
At Earthbound Farm, the bees, butterflies and birds are our friends. We keep millions of pounds of conventional chemicals out of the environment every year by working with pollinators, not against them. Our fields of organic produce are lined with rows of flowers, creating a chemical-free oasis for pollinators where they need it most: farmland.
By purposely planting beneficial insect habitat, Earthbound Farm is creating an attractive shelter for the “good bugs” like ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies and parasitic wasps. These bugs protect our organic produce from not-so-good pests without all those harmful chemicals. The beneficial insect habitat also creates a home for bees and other pollinators while on their journey to the nearest apple orchard or citrus grove.
Increasing pollinators in an ecosystem has been shown to increase biodiversity— the variety of life in a particular habitat or ecosystem (Source). So, more pollinators mean a happy, healthy ecosystem; the kind where organic produce thrives. At Earthbound, we grow organic produce because it is the right thing to do for the planet, for our farm workers and for your plate at home. We love that our 30,000 crop acres of organic farm fields also benefit our pollinator friends.
Pollinators may be small, but they sure are important. And, today, more than ever, they need our help. Together, we can save the pollinators to protect our food shed. By making organic, pesticide-free, food choices for you (and your family), you can make a real difference in the future of pollinators.
At Earthbound, organic is truly for everyone, including the bees, butterflies, bugs, birds and bats!