Organic farming is a method of production which uses sound husbandry techniques and follows principles and logics of a living organism in which all elements (soil, plants, farm animals, farmer etc.) are closely linked with each other.
I’ve taught organics in a local training trust for many years now and often watch the raised eyebrows as I try to preach to those who grew up on the philosophy of “crops need inorganic fertilizers and pesticides to grow efficiently”. Their interest becomes aroused when I start talking about the facts relating to the benefits of organics, and although I don’t think we can truly expect to be able to feed the ever increasing population on crops grown purely organically, it would be to our huge benefit that certain aspects of organic production be incorporated into conventional approaches of agriculture. But I digress, so what about those facts that cause my students to pause from their doodling of intricate flowers and swirling patterns on the edges of their note books and listen:
1) We need to take care of our planet if we want to stay around for a while!
Conventional agriculture is environmentally destructive! Conventional agriculture has limited consideration of the environment in which the crop is being grown. Soil structures are destroyed through repeated tillage; mass monoculture strips land of its natural protection from erosion; inorganic fertilizers destroy biological activity and natural nutrient balances. Conventional crop protection advocates the use of pesticides to get rid of those “unwanted little pests destroying our food!”. We have a responsibility to not only feed the population but also protect the environment to ensure our future generations survival. This can only be achieved through a more organic approach to growing crops.
2) It is a healthier way to grow and consume food.
Not only are farmers exposed to less harmful substances when treating problems on an organically grown crop, there is minimal risk of residue from these chemicals when we come to consume them (some of which penetrate the skin and so are not easily washed off). Our bodies are constantly bombarded by pollutants from car fumes, medicines, micro- and radio- waves. . . we often unknowingly consume them with our food as well! Increases in prostrate cancer and other diseases are signs that our bodies are under strain from our “modern living”.
3) Food Quality is improved in organic crops.
It is believed that high nitrogen application to plants (as in those used for conventional agriculture) increases crude protein concentration but decreases its nutritional value. The source of nitrogen is also related to the levels of nitrates in food, which is converted to the cancer-causing chemicals such as nitrosamine. Crops grown with organic fertilizers, such as compost and manures have lower levels of nitrates (although scientific data is conflicting on this issue).
We owe it to ourselves and the environment to grow foods in a more organic way.