Short answer: organic farming is a holistic approach to growing crops without synthetic inputs like pesticides and fertilizers. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature to build healthy, fertile soil, and a naturally balanced eco-system. Conventional agriculture relies on synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, many of which are unhealthy and all are made with fossil fuels.
Each year brings more studies showing the link between pesticides and major nervous system problems in humans, most recently attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Finally, scientists and consumers are paying attention to these reports.
So Why Buy Organic?
To keep chemicals and poisons off your plate.
Most synthetic fertilizers are carcinogenic, and children are far more vulnerable to pesticides than adults. The food choices we make impact all children’s health – now and in the future.
To help save energy.
On average, food today travels over 1,000 miles from a farm to plate. If we all ate just one meal of local and organically raised meats and produce, we could reduce our country’s oil consumption by leaps and bounds.
To support local farm families.
Most organic farms are independently owned and operated family farms of 100 acres or less. The USDA’s 2012 census showed a loss of about 95,500 farms since 2007. In 1900, 40 percent of the U.S. population farmed. As of 2000, less than 2 percent do. When you buy direct from local farms, you’re re-establishing a time-honored relationship.
To avoid genetically modified organisms, or GMOS.
Genetically Modified Organisms are organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The first widely-grown genetically engineered crops contain genes from bacteria and plant viruses that make them resistant to several insect pests and herbicides, and now GMOs can be found in more than 75 percent of our food supply. They’re a growing concern for many consumers, researchers, and farmers—and so are the pesticides that accompany them.
To support a true economy.
Organic food may seem more expensive than processed and big-farm foods, but not when you look at the hidden costs we pay in taxes in the form of federal subsidies, hazardous waste disposal, and environmental damage. When you calculate the true cost of your grocery store head of lettuce, does it cost 59 cents or two or three dollars?
To preserve biological and genetic diversity.
Rather than growing only produce chosen to withstand packing, shipping, and long shelf life in a store, local organic farms grow many varieties to provide a long harvest season, and the best flavors and nutrition. Many varieties they grow are passed down through multiple generations. This helps preserve genetic diversity that may be needed even more in the future as our climate changes.
To ensure that there will be local farms in your community
So future generations can have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plant and, ultimately, our plates. By supporting sustainable farming practices, you help reverse topsoil erosion.
- The Environmental Working Group has put together a GREAT guide to help shoppers pick the least toxic fruits and vegetables.
- TED Videos
- Animal Welfare Approved: Health Benefits of Pasture-based and Grassfed Farming
- Some conventional fruits and vegetables have more pesticides than others. Learn which ones here.
- Wonder what the term “local food” means? Choice Magazine tackles the topic from all angles.
- Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE): “What Is Sustainable Agriculture?”