With the growing awareness amongst consumers about the sustainability and provenance of the products they buy, non-traditional methods of production are becoming more and more popular. The United States Department of Agriculture Alternative Farming Systems Information Center is keen to encourage this popularity, explaining that the adoption of non-traditional methods by farmers and producers not only stimulates the economy but also helps to improve diversity and sustainability (Alternative Farming Systems Information Centre, n.p.).
The influence of non-traditional production methods can be clearly seen in my own consumer preferences. Particularly when purchasing meat, eggs, or dairy products, I will always choose free-range, local and/or organic products where available, and will go out of my way to find places that can supply products produced in these ways, even if that means visiting a small, independent store or farmer’s market. I feel that the added inconvenience is insignificant compared to the benefits of these types of product both in terms of sustainable practices – ensuring my children will be able to continue enjoying them in the future – and the superior taste and quality of these products compared to mass-produced and heavily modified products.

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Having researched the aquaculture (NOAA Fisheries, n.p.), alpaca (Gateway Farm Alpacas, n.p.) and rabbit (Pinchin, n.p.) industries in the USA, I feel that the industry I would be most interested in getting involved with is the rabbit industry. This is because it most resembles existing meat industries, with similar markets and distribution processes, but also with clear benefits in terms of sustainability. For example, unlike the alpaca industry, the rabbit industry supplies a necessity – meat – rather than a luxury product – fibre for yarn (Gateway Farm Alpacas, n.p.; Pinchin, n.p.), making it less susceptible to fluctuations in the national economy. Rabbit farming also requires less of the specialized equipment and training required for aquaculture (NOAA Fisheries, n.p.).

Overall, the many different non-traditional production methods now available to farmers seem to me to be a positive development for both farmer and consumers in ensuring a future with a diverse, sustainable, and exciting range of produce available.

    References
  • Alternative Farming Systems Information Centre. “List of Alternative Crops and Enterprises for Small Farm Diversification.” Alternative Farming Systems Information Centre, United States Department of Agriculture, 26 October 2015. Web. 23 November 2015.
  • Gateway Farm Alpacas. “The Alpaca Industry in the United States.” Gateway Farm Alpacas, Gateway Farm Alpacas, 2015. Web. 23 November 2015.
  • Pinchin, Karen. “Are Rabbits the New Super Meat?” Modern Farmer, Modern Farmer Media, 2015. Web. 23 November 2015.
  • NOAA Fisheries. “Aquaculture in the United States.” NOAA Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, n.d. Web. 23 November 2015.