|Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.||Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.|
|Spray synthetic insecticides to reduce pests and disease.||Spray pesticides from natural sources; use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.|
|Use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds.||Use environmentally-generated plant-killing compounds; rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.|
|Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.||Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.|
(…)New research indicates there is a strong link between the pesticides and a dramatic decline in the numbers of honey bees both in the United States and United Kingdom to the tune of about 50 percent in the last 25 years alone.
The problem is that most commercial pesticides were inspired or created by the poison gas industry (WWI nerve gas). The prevailing notion that if you can walk and talk after exposure, it’s safe; ignores the fact that long-term, adverse effects occur from sub-lethal exposures to toxic commercial pesticides.
Seven key ways organic farming is superior to industrial agriculture
1. Profits – This is one you might think industrial farming would take, since profits are the bottom line for the companies that comprise the industry. But due to significantly lower input costs (fertilizers, pesticides, oil, etc.), organic farming revenues are greater. The Rodale study showed the mean net return for the organic systems was $558/acre/year compared to only $190/acre/year for the industrial systems.2. Yield – The 30-year Rodale study concluded that after a three-year conversion period, organic yields were equivalent to industrial yields. Another study cited by the Organic Consumers Association states “In a review of 286 projects in 57 countries, farmers were found to have increased agricultural productivity by an average of 79 percent, by adopting ‘resource-conserving’ or ecological agriculture.”
3. Employment – Conventional wisdom might convince you that a large scale industrial system has the potential to create more jobs than a small or medium sized
organicsystem. This is not the case. Where human hands used to work, now machines take their place. Over the last hundred years, the EPA says labor efficiency has increased from 27.5 acres/worker to 740 acres/worker. While this may seem like a positive, it means the same care and attention cannot be paid and subsequently, crop quality is inferior.4. Energy efficiency – Oil used to transport and apply fertilizers and pesticides, along with nitrogen fertilizer representing 41 percent of total energy costs, makes industrial
farming far less efficient than organic. Organic systems consume 45 percent less energy overall than industrial systems, with production efficiency being a whopping 28 percent higher.5. Resilience – Organic crops are more resilient during times of drought or climate change. Organic corn even outperformed GM so called “drought tolerant” varieties by between 18 to 24 percent.
6. Soil health – The Rodale study found that, while industrial systems merely maintained soil health by utilizing chemical fertilizers, which over time destroys microbial life and weakens soil integrity, organic systems improved soil quality.
7. Toxic chemicals – With over 17,000 pesticides used today, many of which haven’t undergone any safety testing, dangerous pesticide residue is a given when it comes to industrial farming systems.
Facts about organic food
For foods to be labelled as organic, at least 95% of the ingredients must come from organically produced plants and animals. Any food product sold as ‘organic’ (in UK) falls under the EU regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008. This means that the product must have been produced to these regulations and inspected and certified by a registered certification body, such as Soil Association Certification www.sacert.orgBecause some ingredients are not available organically, up to 5% ingredients from a list of approved non-organic food ingredients are allowed. There are also a limited number of non-food ingredients such as salt, water, and a restricted number of additives and processing aids which are allowed, some of which are legally required (such as iron and thiamine in flour). All artificial colourings and sweeteners are banned in organic food.
There is an extremely strict list of permitted ingredients to ensure that nothing harmful or potentially harmful will be found in organic food.
What about the price of organic food?
Organic food may cost more because:
• labour costs can be higher because of organic farming methods;
• smaller quantities and longer distances usually raise the costs of distribution and marketing;
• as with any product, when demand is high and supply is low, the price goes up and the farmer has very little control over this!
“If you can afford them, buy them,” recommends New York University professor Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH. “It really is a personal choice but how can anyone think substances, such as pesticides, capable of killing insects, can be good for you?”
How can one find organic food at a reasonable price?
• You can often buy direct from the producer. This might be by box schemes, from farmers’ markets, online sales, mail order or farm shops.
• Produce can be cheaper when it’s in season.
• Most supermarkets and wholefood shops stock organic produce: if you can’t find it,
ask for it!
• By preparing your own food and avoiding highly processed foods, you may find that you are not paying any more overall than you would for non-organic food.
• to find out where you can buy organic produce in Wales: Local and Organic.
I personally buy organic from the local farm. I shop online, and have my items delivered to my house. The packing is great, no plastic bags and boxes are returnable. It cost me exactly the same as if I bought in the supermarket, for all my shopping – bear in mind, I very rarely buy ready-made food.
It is just a matter of not listening to what everyone else’s opinion is, but by checking for yourself. This can create healthier environment, support local farmers, and most importantly, allows you to give your body what it needs and deserves…
Organic and Sustainable Farmers Can Feed the World article: