My husband and I moved to rural Oklahoma a few years ago. We bought 32 acres, mostly wooded, but we made sure that we had an open area in which to garden. The first thing we did, before even putting one building on the land, was to build a tall fence (to keep out deer) around the area we were going to till. We planted a large garden, and we did it all organically. It was a challenge at times, but when we produced the food, there was no doubt that it was a “cut above” what we could buy in the grocery store. We started a farmers’ market in our area because we found that there were other growers in the area, also growing organically, who had more produce than they needed, and there were a lot of people out there who wanted to buy organic.
Why organic? I have been asked this question many times. There are a multitude of reasons, not the least being the satisfaction of knowing that you can produce healthy, edible food in a way that is in harmony with our earth’s ecosystem. I have listed below some of the other reasons that organically grown food is important.
Organically grown food is free of harmful pesticides and chemicals. In animals studies, pesticides have been shown to cause many adverse effects including cancer and nervous system damage. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated pesticides caused an extra 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans. If you look at this data sheet from an Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigation, the importance of organically grown food becomes clear: http://www.foodnews.org/fulldataset.php
Organic food is known to contain more nutrients, minerals and vitamins than food that comes from farms that are not organic. Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that since the 1940’s, there has been a decline in the nutritional value in fruits and vegetables. One study performed at the University of California at Davis showed that organically grown foods had higher amounts of flavonoids which help to protect against heart disease and cancer. The researchers found that in organically grown corn and strawberries, flavonoids were as much as 50% higher.
Industrial farms plant the same crops over and over on the same field. While this increases production, it depletes the soil of minerals and nutrients. Chemical fertilizers are used to replace these lost minerals and nutrients. When the same crops are grown over and over in the same place, the crops become less resistant to insects, and therefore increased amounts of pesticides are used. This practice leads to loss of genetic variability which in turn leads to a loss in biodiversity, a threat to our food supply.
Organic food helps to protect the health of farm workers. A study done by the National Cancer Institute found that farmers who are exposed to herbicides have a six time greater risk of developing cancer than non-farmers.
Organically grown food tastes better!
Growing organically is just smart. It helps to preserve the integrity of our world while keeping our bodies healthier.