Michael Rahal founded and runs Rahal Farms, a 59-acre sustainable farm in Fairview, Tennessee. Mr. Rahal is a trained designer, but his personal passions led him down a new path. He runs the farm, including its dairy center and culinary school.

Question: What is sustainable farming?

Answer: With sustainable farming, a few important factors are always taken into account: environmental preservation, protection of public health, sustaining vibrant communities, and upholding animal welfare. The concept is not just to take everything possible from the animals, the land, and the community, but it is to create a positive environment where every aspect is beneficial to the others and there are long-term synergies.

Question: Is organic farming the same thing as sustainable farming?

Answer: Although sustainable farming is generally organic, it is very common that organic farming is not sustainable. Considering sustainability factors is much more burdensome than merely meeting organic standards. Consumers who care about sustainability have to do a lot more research to find options they are comfortable with, rather than just going by an organic label.

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Sustainability has become an important global consideration since the concept was first aired in the 1980s. More people are asking important questions about sustainability with regard to nutritional choices. Considerations for consumers include where food was grown, whether the quality or consistency was modified or compromised during the production process, and whether sustainable agricultural practices were employed along the way.

Culinary sustainability by definition is making nutritional choices that have the lowest possible impact on the environment, respect ecosystems and biodiversity, make the most of the natural world, are safe to consume, and contain adequate nutrients. In particular, efforts are concentrated on increasing fruit, vegetable, milk, and wholegrain production to meet future demands. The reduction and elimination of potentially harmful chemicals and growth hormones for health and nutritional reasons is also important to the cause.

About the Author: The owner of Rahal Farms, Michael Rahal has successfully combined his passion for design, animal care, sustainability, and cooking to establish a culinary school on the farm. Under the leadership of Michael Rahal, the Kitchen at Rahal Farms is a unique educational concept, teaching culinary skills, sustainability, and food product farming techniques in an idyllic retreat setting.