Editor's note: Organics is the newest column for TotalHealth readers. It's important for our personal and family health and that of Mother Earth.
You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.
Reason: It's more sustainable and it costs less!
What?! Do you think that organic shopping comes with a higher price tag than conventional? You may have noticed that the dollar amount charged for organic produce and products can often be higher than conventional. There are a number of reasons for this (note that you won't ALWAYS be charged more for organic, but this will usually be the case):
- Conventional farming uses intensive production methods supported by quick fix chemical fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides. Organic farming does not.
- In organic farming, chemicals used are natural and biodegradable so they don't hurt the environment. If antibiotics must be used on sick animals they are kept apart from other animals for a certain period of time. Antibiotics are not routinely used like they often are in conventional farming.
- Organically reared animals take longer to reach marketable size because growth promoting hormones and protein rich feeds are not allowed.
- Yields from organic farming are lower because natural methods are used to grow healthy crops, rather than chemical solutions that can result in dire consequences for our health and the environment. Some of the natural methods using in organic farming include crop rotation, companion planting, and use of manure. The farmers have a good understanding of ecology.
- Organic farming is more labour intensive—people are used to remove weeds, or natural treatments are used. The focus is on control, rather than annihilation of pests and weeds.
- Paying low/unjust wages is against organic practice.
Conventional farming is simply not sustainable. Air and water pollution results in a huge cost to the environment, and plants and wildlife habitats suffer. Excess consumption of toxic chemicals comes at a massive cost to our health, for example the potential for endocrine disruption as a result of pesticide use. So really, if we look holistically at the implications of conventional versus organic farming in terms of social, environmental and health factors, which one costs more? Rather than asking "Why does organic cost so much" perhaps we should ask "Why is conventional so cheap?"
The information in this article was gathered from our knowledge of organic practices as well as the book "Organic — a new way of eating." Sophie Grigson and William Black. Headline Book Publishing 2001