12/28/2011 12:18 pm ET Updated Feb 27, 2012

Big Ag's Gifts for 2011

Judging by the ever-increasing demand for healthy, environmentally friendly and high-welfare products, it's clear that consumers are now waking up to the hidden costs of industrial farming. So, as the holiday season approaches, I thought it might be interesting to highlight some of Big Ag's 'gifts' that we didn't really want, need or -- in some cases -- didn't even know about. Here's my top 10 for 2011. How does that damned gift receipt process work?

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Big Ag Gifts
Big Ag Gifts

Cheap food comes at a cost. But the good news is that it is not too late to change the way our food is produced. The number of farmers and ranchers who are pioneering truly sustainable farming practices is growing every day and they are only too eager to supply us with safe, nutritious food that won't literally cost the Earth. More farmers will quickly join them if we vote with our dollars by seeking out sustainable food options, and put pressure on our politicians and the food industry to change. The power is in our hands (and wallets).

The Animal Welfare Approved program has experienced yet another year of fantastic growth and innovation, driven by the ever-increasing demand for healthy, environmentally friendly and high-welfare products. So while I am the first to accept that we face significant challenges, I am also confident that 2012 will bring us a step closer to the goal of changing how we feed ourselves -- for good.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to our friends, farmers and ranchers, donors, consumers, and everyone else who has helped give the future of sustainable farming room to grow and flourish in 2011. Happy Holidays and a prosperous, sustainable New Year to you all.