What is Organic?
Simply stated, organic is a term that is used to describe a philosophy of working within the laws and systems existing in nature.
Organic farming works to mimic growing patterns found in nature in order to achieve a healthy environment that is sustainable long-term.
Organic farming does not use pesticides, chemicals, or genetically modified seeds to grow crops. Instead, natural methods including compost, cover crops, and microbial-rich soil provide the perfect recipe for growing healthy plants, healthy people and a healthy planet.
With all the noise, buzzwords and confusing packaging out there, it can be hard to know how healthy your food options are – even if it’s organic!
Here’s a chart to help clear up some of the confusion. If you’re looking for the cleanest food on the market, look for certified organic products.
Why Is Organic Farming Better?
Organic farming builds healthy soil through the use of compost, manure, cover crops and crop rotations and other natural methods. The nutrient rich organic soil then has everything it needs to feed the plants that grow from it without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.
It’s all based on the understanding that natural microbial life in the soil is unequaled at providing the optimum nutrition to plants. When given the opportunity fight off pests and disease all by themselves, organic crops actually end up providing high quality nutrition to those that consume them.
Studies have found that organic food contains, on average, (i) 25% higher concentrations of eleven different nutrients than their conventionally-grown counterparts! (ii) Organic fruits and vegetables have also been shown to be approximately 30% higher in antioxidants.
How Does Organic Farming Impact the Environment?
Organic food is not only better for us, but also for the earth. Where industrial farms use pesticides that pollute farmland and water resources, organic farms eliminate the use of polluting chemicals to protect and conserve our soil and water systems – for instance, they use beneficial insects to prey on pests instead of using chemical insecticides that can remain in the soil and water for years.
In fact, organic farms help build healthy soil in many ways:
- Crop rotation encourages biodiversity;
- Cover crops like clover add nutrients, prevent weeds and increase organic matter (which helps resist erosion);
- Composted manure and plant waste helps retain moisture and nutrients.
Sustainable farms are all about working in harmony with the environment; many organic farmers work to retain wetlands and other natural areas, protect biodiversity by collecting and preserving seeds and growing unusual varieties and respect the balance of the ecosystem by encouraging wildlife.
A recent farming systems trial conducted by the Rodale Institute concluded that organic farms use 45% less energy than conventional farming practices and still manage to outperform conventional farms in years of drought.
Organic farming is based on growth and sustainability – it helps to preserve the land for us and the generations to come!
(i) Source: New Evidence Supports the nutritional Superiority of Organic Plant-based Foods, C. Benbrook, et. Al., The Organic Center State of Science Review, March 2008
(ii) Source: Elevating Antioxidant Levels in Food though Organic Farming and Food Processing, C Benbrook, The Organic Center State of Science Review, January 2005