Savor Health

Industrial Agriculture: What is it?

Here in the United States, most of the foods you find in the grocery store come from a relatively small number of industrial-style farms. These are the few farms that produce the majority of the food for the near 322 million people who live in this country. Often very large and highly specialized, these farms require large inputs of energy, pesticides, as well as synthetic fertilizers. Though these farms are putting food on the table for millions every single day, they are also impacting the environment, and may consequently be affecting your health as well.

[bctt tweet=”Industrial agriculture feeds us, but harms the environment…and our health” via=”no”]

How Does It Work?

Industrial farms often favor the production of only one crop (corn, soybeans, cotton, etc) which limits habitat diversity and increases a crop’s vulnerability to damage from pests. Instead of naturally replenishing the nutrients in the soil after harvest, industrial agriculture uses chemical fertilizers to grow the next round of crops. In fact, in 2005, American farmers used more than 22 million tons of fertilizers! [1]

Chemical fertilizers are known to cause long-term depletion of organic matter and degradation of overall soil quality. This lack of soil management leads to a vicious cycle of more chemical use, pesticide resistance in insects, and pollution of surface and groundwater by herbicides and insecticides.

Industrial Farming and Your Health

In the last few decades, we have seen industrial agriculture create large, complex effects on our environment, economy, as well as our urban and rural communities. In an article published in Science magazine, authors discussed the havoc that industrial agriculture has wrecked on the world’s soil quality, and it isn’t good. According to the article, humans and industrial agriculture have disrupted a number of soil cycles so that they are no longer in balance. [2]

This is changing soil in ways that will affect our future generation, as well as the future climate. Imagine an ecosystem that was once full of life in support of nutrient dense food materials. Now imagine an imbalanced soil system that lacks the organisms, nutrients, and vitality that it once had. I would certainly prefer to consume fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown in healthy, balanced soil. Wouldn’t you?

This has led to the rise of the sustainable food movement.

The Meaning of Sustainability

Local and sustainable have become two of the top buzzwords surrounding our food in the last few years. So what does “sustainable” mean exactly? The dictionary definition of sustainability simply means the ability to be supported or upheld, and this can be applied to any working system. The issue of sustainability is particularly important when it comes to the world’s food system. What does sustainability look like when it comes to the way we grow and produce food?

Sustainable agriculture is typically defined a way of growing or raising food, including animals, in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner using practices that:

  • protects the environment,
  • safeguards human health,
  • provides fair treatment to workers, and
  • is humane to farm animals.

Typically, your small, local food producers are most likely going to be the ones utilizing this type of practice.

[bctt tweet=”What does “sustainable” mean, anyway?” via=”no”]

Sustainable Farming Practices

Though there is no single set of farming practices that constitute sustainable agriculture, there are many methods that can be used to enhance sustainability. Farming in general is an “extractive” process, meaning that as plants grow, they take nutrients from the soil and turn it into plant matter.

Sustainable practices manage the health of the soil by replenishing the nutrients that were lost during harvest.

Soil is an ecosystem of its own — alive with bacteria, worms, and fungi, that maintain the nutrient value. An acre of healthy soil can contain 4 tons of organisms, which make up the soil’s ecosystem. This includes 900 pounds of earthworms and 1,500 pounds of bacteria! If managed properly, these organisms perform vital functions that aid in plant growth. Good sustainable practice involves managing the soil’s chemical, biologic, and physical properties by replacing what was lost after harvest, often through the use of compost. [1]

Sustainable vs. Organic

If organic food is produced without the use of pesticides or fertilizers, does that mean that it qualifies as sustainable? And if sustainable food protects the environment and is guided by ethical standards, does that mean it qualifies as organic? These two concepts are actually not interchangeable. They are independent from one another and have different definitions.

  • Organic refers to a food crop that was grown without artificial pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, irradiation, or sewage sludge, and animals that were raised without hormones or antibiotics. If the food is Certified Organic, the farming methods follow specific rules established by USDA.
  • Sustainable (by most definitions) signifies that the nutrients removed from the soil by growing plants are replenished without artificial inputs.

Based on the definitions, organic is not always sustainable, and sustainable is not always organic. [3] Regardless, both organic and sustainable foods reduces your risk of exposure to pesticides, and are environmentally friendly and healthier than the conventional counterpart. Either way you look at it, both organic and sustainable embody the idea of a healthier, friendlier world.

Check back soon for the final article in this series to find out more about what makes the nutritional quality of sustainable produce and animal products stand out compared to their conventional counterparts, and how to go about integrating these concepts into your own lifestyle.

Resources:

  1. Grace Communications Foundation. Sustainable Table: Environment. Accessed December 9, 2015.
  2. Amundson R, Berhe AA, Hopmans JW, Olson C, Sztein AE, Sparks DL. Soil Science: Soil and human security in the 21st Century. Science. 2015; 348(6235).
  3. Nestle, Marion. Defining Organic: The Difference Between Organic and Local. The Atlantic. Web. Published January 10, 2012. Accessed December 9, 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Susan started Savor Health after losing a close friend to a brain tumor and, through that experience, becoming aware of the significant unmet nutritional needs of people with cancer.  Struck by the fact that her friend was told “nutrition doesn’t matter” and “eat whatever you want,” Susan read the evidence-based literature on the subject, interviewed oncologists, oncology nurses and oncology dietitians, as well as patients and caregivers, and found that, in fact, nutrition does matter in oncology. Armed with solid scientific evidence supporting the clinical and quality of life benefits of proper nutrition, Susan left Wall Street and created Savor Health, an AI-based provider of personalized and clinically appropriate nutrition solutions for cancer patients, their caregivers and health enterprises. Susan brings to Savor Health over 25 years of industry experience in healthcare and business as well as expertise in strategy, finance and management.

Susan is an outspoken and tireless advocate for cancer patients receiving proper nutrition and nutrition support before, during and after treatment. She strongly believes that the U. S. healthcare system requires new innovation to transform it into a more holistic and integrated system of care whereby multiple disciplines coordinate care together for the benefit of the whole patient. As part of this, her goal is for nutrition to be an integral component of such an integrated cancer care delivery system.  Susan’s commitment to the field of oncology extends beyond Savor Health to volunteer work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in pediatrics and as a runner for Fred’s Team to raise money for research at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Susan participated in the Cancer Moonshot in June of 2016 where she was a breakout session group “igniter” tasked with starting and leading discussion. Susan’s first book, the Meals to Heal Cancer Cookbook, was published in March 2016.

In addition to her role as CEO of Savor Health, Susan speaks nationally about the importance of ensuring proper nutrition in the cancer patient and on topics including leadership and startups. She has been a speaker at the Harvard Medical School’s Career Advancement and Leadership Skills for Women in Healthcare, ESMO World Congress on GI Cancer, BioPharm America, AARP Live @50+, Lake Nona Impact Forum, and IIR ePharma Summit.

Prior to starting Savor Health, Susan had a successful career on Wall Street as a healthcare services investment banker working at prestigious firms including Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Wasserstein Perella and Robertson Stephens. Susan earned a B.A. from Duke University and M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business.

This will close in 0 seconds

Marissa Buchan is a registered dietitian, with advanced practice certifications in Oncology Nutrition (CSO) and Clinical Research (CCRP). She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Duke University, and Master’s of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Marissa worked for 10 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in both the clinical research and nutrition departments.  In addition to counseling patients before, during, and after cancer therapy, she spearheaded nutrition-research efforts for the bone marrow transplant service. She has co-authored over 20 articles and has a particular interest in the role of nutrition on the intestinal microbiota and its impact on patient outcomes. When Marissa’s not wearing her lab coat, she’s in her apron whipping up healthy and delicious recipes that you can find on her blog, Get Off Your Tush and Cook.

Marissa is Chief Operating Officer of Savor Health where she leads operations working with the technology, clinical, and business development teams and management. Prior to assuming the role of COO in March 2020, Marissa was Vice President, Clinical Research and Operations at Savor Health where she worked closely with Savor Health’s Chief Medical Advisor, Scientific Advisory Board, and Clinical Operations Team to evaluate, design and conduct clinical research.  She also counsels patients on oncology nutrition issues and contributes to the Company website’s clinical content.

This will close in 0 seconds

Dr. DeFrance has a unique background including clinical interventional cardiologist, chief medical officer, educator, outcomes researcher and entrepreneur. He has expertise in Lifestyle medicine in which he was board certified in 2020 and is highly interested in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. Dr. DeFrance also has expertise in appropriate utilization of technology in medicine, healthcare economics, value-based metrics, and educational design and delivery. He worked as Chief Medical Officer for HealthHelp, one of the largest specialty benefit managers in the US, and led large teams of healthcare professionals in writing evidence based appropriate care guidelines and rule sets which improve the quality and safety of medicine for over 20 million people in the US while also creating sustained savings in healthcare. He has also designed clinical decision support systems that are currently in use helping to improve patient care.

In 2018 Dr. DeFrance founded MedMentor Education, a company that provides state of the art CME content using the latest in eLearning science and online delivery platforms. Dr. DeFrance is also the founder and President of Digimedica, a consulting and educational design and delivery company for healthcare professionals, hospitals, and universities. He is passionate about creating systems to optimize knowledge transfer and has won numerous awards for teaching excellence during his career. He is an expert in cardiovascular CT imaging and has taught more than 3,000 physicians how to perform and interpret cardiac CT nationally and internationally and has lectured extensively on this subject.

Dr. DeFrance has a stellar reputation in the medical field and continues work to improve the quality and safety of patient care in the US.

This will close in 0 seconds


This will close in 0 seconds

Alyson is a registered nurse and is certified in oncology nursing (OCN) through the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). She also has her certification as an ONS Biotherapy and Chemotherapy Provider. Alyson studied nursing at Thomas Jefferson University where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since starting her nursing career in 2004, Alyson has had a strong dedication and commitment to oncology patients. She has worked inpatient specializing in Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation. Alyson currently works in outpatient oncology at the North Shore-LIJ Monter Cancer Center. Alyson is part of the clinical team at Savor Health where she counsels patients on oncology and oncology nutrition issues and contributes to website and other Savor Health content.

This will close in 0 seconds

Chelsey is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology nutrition (CSO). She completed her Dietetic Internship at Northwell Health, received her BS in Dietetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MS in Nutrition at Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine. Chelsey works as an outpatient dietitian at Mount Sinai covering all of the downtown cancer services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel and Philips Ambulatory Care Center. Chelsey works with patients and families before, during and after treatment to optimize their nutrition through dietary counseling and support. Chelsey has experience counseling clients with a variety of diagnoses including breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, head & neck cancer, and more. Chelsey also enjoys sharing nutrition knowledge with her peers by running a monthly Employee Wellness program that showcases healthy topics, recipes and food demos.

This will close in 0 seconds

Michelle is a Registered Dietitian specializing in oncology. She works as a clinical dietitian at an ambulatory cancer center in New York City and is a consultant for Savor Health. She is passionate about educating oncology patients on the importance of nutrition during their fight against cancer and helping them to optimize their nutrition through all phases of treatment. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University.

This will close in 0 seconds

Denise Sievering is a Registered Dietitian who is board certified in Oncology Nutrition as well as Nutrition Support. A fluent Spanish speaker, Denise joined the Savor Health team to support Spanish speaking cancer patients and to continue to expand the Platform’s nutritional strategies and recommendations in Spanish. Denise holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University, and completed her internship at New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP). Denise started her career as a registered dietitian at NYP-Columbia University Medical Center, primarily covering inpatient Oncology units. Denise also holds a Master of Arts degree in Mental Health Counseling from New York University, and incorporates her advanced training in motivational interviewing and empathic listening in her patient encounters, particularly those whose lives have been forever changed by a cancer diagnosis. A New Jersey native, Denise now resides in sunny San Diego, CA where she works as a part-time outpatient Oncology dietitian at Scripps Health-MD Anderson Cancer Center, and also works as an inpatient dietitian at Kaiser Permanente. In her spare time, Denise can be found at a mom-and-pop taco shop, one of the many local craft breweries, and exploring her new city of San Diego with her husband and her rescue pup, Ripley.

This will close in 0 seconds

Karen is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and registered in New York as a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist. Fluent in Spanish, Karen joined the Savor Health team to support Spanish speaking cancer patients and to continue to expand the Platform’s nutritional strategies and recommendations in Spanish. Karen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Ithaca College and her Master of Science degree from Hunter College. She works as an outpatient oncology dietitian in New York. Karen often works with local community centers to host nutrition programs for cancer survivors and their families, leading classes on how to live healthier lifestyles throughout their continuum of care. The American Institute of Cancer Research selected to showcase one of her many programs at their conference in 2019. Karen has written for and lent commentary to various publications and truly enjoys teaching people how to eat better. She loves to cook and strongly feels that healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad.

This will close in 0 seconds

Allie is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Specialist in Oncology (CSO). She joins Savor in 2023, bringing years of experience from the John Theurer Cancer Center in New Jersey, where she worked with patients with a variety of cancers. Her goal is to help people feel their best, both mentally and physically, when physical health challenges arise. She believes in the power of nutrition ever since the impact it made on her athletic career as a volleyball player during college. Allie graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree from University of Maryland-Baltimore County and has her Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Wisconsin Stout. She enjoys travelling, enjoying different cuisines, cooking, and hiking and other outdoor activities with her family and dog.

This will close in 0 seconds

Julia Penberg is a seasoned healthcare professional with more than 30 years of experience focusing on maximizing operational excellence, leading clinical program development and building strong cross-functional teams. Her previous roles include overseeing the performance of clinical managers and nurse practitioners across multiple markets within United Healthcare-Optum’s Medicare Advantage and dual-eligible special needs populations, payer outreach and program development at Mayo Clinic, ground level specialty hospital development and direct patient care as a family and dermatology nurse practitioner. Julia volunteered as an operating room nurse and nurse practitioner on several mission trips to Romania and was a support group leader for the Kansas City chapter of the International Myeloma Foundation. Her motivation throughout her career has been with wellness promotion, disease risk modification and ensuring the best patient experience across the health continuum. Ms. Penberg received an MBA from the University of Dallas; a MS in Nursing from the University of Kansas and a BS in Nursing from the University of Texas-Austin. She is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

This will close in 0 seconds

Rachel is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (“CSO”). She joined NYP-Columbia as the outpatient oncology dietitian in 2020 after working at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for two years. Rachel completed her dietetic internship through Keene State College in 2017. She is pursuing an MS in Integrative Nutrition at Stony Brook University and has a BS in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise from Virginia Tech. Rachel provides nutrition counseling to all types of oncology patients and helps them understand the mental and physical benefits of nutrition as an ally in their fight against cancer. In her free time she enjoys slow meals with family and friends, Pilates, and tending to her fire escape garden.

This will close in 0 seconds

Allie Werner is a Registered Dietitian at Fresenius Kidney Care where she provides medical nutrition therapy diet counseling to patients on Dialysis. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in nutrition from Indiana University and completed her Master’s Degree and dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, checking out the amazing food scene in downtown Chicago, and exercising on her Peloton bike.

This will close in 0 seconds

Immersed in the tech world for a decade, I've coded, led teams, and honed my skills in architecture and design. As a tech enthusiast, I've seamlessly woven through full-stack projects, fusing my love for code with the art of leadership.

This will close in 0 seconds

Mohit is a full-stack developer with expertise in Python and JavaScript, known for his efficient coding and ability to deliver scalable software solutions. His technical contributions are highlighted on GitHub and Stack Overflow, demonstrating his commitment to the tech community and problem-solving skills. With a solid educational foundation and a diverse project portfolio, Mohit excels at navigating complex challenges and is well-equipped to contribute to dynamic software projects.

This will close in 0 seconds

Rayna McCann is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher and yoga4cancer certified. She received her BS in Nutrition at Penn State University and her MS from Stony Brook University. For work, Rayna wears many hats in the world of nutrition and worked for years in clinical settings focusing on oncology nutrition. She is also an Adjunct Professor and passionate about inspiring the future of dietitians. Throughout her career, she has received awards recognizing her dedication to patient safety and her contributions to improving malnutrition awareness. In 2022, Rayna was proud to accept the ‘Dietitian of the Year’ award through the Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Rayna has co-authored abstracts for poster presentations within the American Institute for Cancer Research conference, as well as, the Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference Expo and subsequent publication. She has enjoyed authoring articles, including an article for The Cure magazine regarding Multiple Myeloma and nutrition. When Rayna is not participating in nutrition related activities, she is dedicated to dog rescue.

This will close in 0 seconds