In the quest to maximize yields, agriculture has become more and more dependent upon chemicals of all sorts: chemical fertilizers, chemicals to kill pests, chemicals to kill weeds, chemicals to kill fungi, so on and so forth. Then there are chemicals that we use for cattle farming – artificial hormones to maximize animal growth and milk production, rampant use of antibiotics and other medicines.
Problems with Mainstream Farming Methods
As a result, the so called ‘modern’ farming seems to bear only a passing resemblance to farming as was done by our forefathers for thousands of years of civilized living. The chemicals that we put into the soil and into the livestock pollute and poison the soil. They impact wildlife, vegetation and water resources and the entire rural communities.
Not only that, as consumers we put into our bodies all of these chemicals right along with the food, treated as it was with fertilizers, herbicide, pesticide, hormones and antibiotics. We don’t even understand fully the long term health impacts of ingesting all of these chemicals, although research has shown links between chemicals and various disorders and even certain cancers.
Benefits of Organic Farming
Organically grown food may not be as bright looking or large in size as other varieties (chemicals are used not only in the process of growing; they are also used for artificially ripening food or slowing its decay).
Organic produce may also be more expensive because the crop yields are not as high with organic farming methods. The other reason it is more expensive is due to the fact that it is more labor intensive, requiring farmers to be more hands-on and attentive to crop and livestock.
However the benefits of organic farming are many.
1. Health Benefits: The first and foremost is the health benefit of organically grown produce – not only is the food more nutrient rich but it is also free of chemicals, additives, and hormones, and other substances that could be toxic to health and wellbeing.
2. Less Diseases: Organic farming can help to lower diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and many cancers. The lower rate of diseases, disorders and cancers in many unindustrialized societies is evidence of this fact.
The impact of Xenoestrogens ingested by way of food manifests in hormonal disturbances, lowered rates of fertility and many other problems.
3. Better Taste: Organic food tastes better, free as it is from chemicals. Research has shown that organically grown food is better nourished, which is why it tastes better as well.
4. Lower Impact on Soil: The impact of organic farming on the soil and local communities is far less inimical than mainstream farming methods. The chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are routinely used for farming permanently poison the soil even for future crops. The chemicals permeate into the soil and may also contaminate water resources of the area, poisoning wildlife on land as well as in water.
5. Healthier Eco System: Take for instance the unchecked use of antibiotics in rearing cattle for meat or leather, and its impacts in underdeveloped and developing countries. When carcasses of slaughtered animals are fed upon as carrion by birds and other scavengers, the scavengers are poisoned by the large quantities of antibiotics (in this case diclofenac) present in the organs of the dead animal. This has impacted parts of the food chain and pushed vultures into near extinction.
The diversity of vegetation and animal populations as well as their habitats is better preserved with organic farming. The soil and the eco system stays healthier with organic farming practices.
6. Cost Effective in the Long Run: Though organic farming produces smaller yields per hectare of cultivated area, it is cost effective in other ways: the costs of purchasing, spraying or otherwise using pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides can be very considerable; this cost is eliminated in organic farming. Also since soil remains healthier and arable for longer with organic practices and this makes cultivation possible for longer for the farmer.
7. Close to Nature: Organic farming also rejects genetically modified species of produce. This is another benefit since we simply don’t know yet, the consequences of using genetically modified produce in the longer term.
Quite simply, organic farming is a group of practices that helps us consume food the way that it was meant to be consumed. It is health friendly, it is earth friendly; both excellent reasons to go organic… if you haven’t already done so!