Everyone knows that eating organic foods is better for you than eating non-organic. But have you really looked into the arguments for and against eating organic food? It may not be as straightforward as you think. Here I will give you my findings but first what is organic food exactly?
What Is Organic Food?
Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.
Organic agriculture is a systems approach to production that is working towards environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production. Instead, the agricultural systems rely on crop rotation, animal and plant manures, some hand weeding and biological pest control.
Organic farming also means that if you purchase organic meat then the animals are fed a natural diet and kept in free-range conditions.
Pros of Eating Organic Food
- Less Environmental Impact – Organic farming practices significantly reduce the risk of water pollution and also prevent damaging soil erosion. They also conserve water for our future. In organic farms, there is increased diversity of crops.
- Lower Levels of Chemicals – There are lower levels of pesticide residues in organic food, as only a small number of chemicals are allowed in organic food production. Organic farmers are restrained from using synthetic fertilisers, chemical additives, or preservatives to their produces.
- Does Not Contain Hydrogenated Fat – Organic processed food contains no hydrogenated fat, whereas non-organic processed food does. Hydrogenated fat has been linked to heart disease — so choosing organic options can help to protect your heart.
Cons of Eating Organic Food
- More Expensive – In organic farming, the produce is usually lower due to lack of synthetic fertilisers. As such, they tend to be pricey than non-organic food. Even the overhead costs are higher in organic farming. All these factors make them heavier on your pocket. I found this gem on Quora: Conventional agriculture is heavy on the inputs, and those inputs (chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides) would be far more costly if the petroleum they are made from weren’t paid for by government subsidies (which are paid for by our tax dollars). The question then isn’t whether organic is too expensive, but rather, how much does conventional agriculture actually cost?
- Susceptible to foodborne diseases – Organic food goes off the shelves rather quickly. Actually, organic food is produced without artificial preservatives or irradiation. Hence, they tend to be spoiled faster than processed non-organic food.
- Unsustainable Farming methods – Organic farms produce far less food per unit of land and water than conventional ones. Organic agriculture is more labor-intensive than conventional agriculture. Both arguments making organic farming sustainable in the long run.
So is Eating Organic Food better?
Organic Food, yes I believe it is better than eating non-organic food. Fewer pesticides and chemicals in your fruits and vegetables. No Hydrogenated Fat. Morally, it’s good for you too.
But organic farming on the other hand, no I do not believe it is better conventional farming methods. I said that organic farming has less environmental impact, I did not say that it was without environmental impact entirely. Organic farming relies on using compost to fertilise its crops which aren’t entirely free from producing greenhouse emissions when used in large scale. The compost is added before crops are planted so the release of which is not matched with plant demand. Which makes the compost that is implemented in the soil prior to planting as the sole fertiliser, result in significant down leaching of nitrate into groundwater.
Plus Organic Farming is just not sustainable. Organic crops have a lower yield than conventional crops because they do not use synthetic fertilisers. Which on one hand is great, no harmful chemicals in our food, but the supply of organic food is just never going to be able to keep up with demand.
An idealists solution?
Grow your own fruits and vegetables. Yes I know not everyone has space, time or money to grow their own fruits and vegetables. But with community gardens, crop swap sites and Locavore cafes becoming more prevalent… Who knows, one day it could be a viable and sustainable option when you combine it with large scale organically farmed produce. If you have never looked into vegetable gardening because of lack of space, look into container gardening options. You would be surprised at how much you can grow on a deck or patio.
Otherwise, keep an eye out for my post in the next couple of months about growing a vegetable garden in your own backyard. This novice still has a bit to learn so once I have established my garden and know a bit more I will give you all the information you could possibly need to have your own sustainable backyard fruit and vegetable garden!
What are your thoughts on organic food and farming? Leave a comment below!