Organic Agriculture

In your local grocery store, you may have noticed a growing section in produced marked, Organic. You will also note the higher price per pound. The customer must decide whether the increase in price is worth paying for a grocery item that claims to be safer and healthier for your body.

Is organic agriculture safer for us all? The use of pesticides is forbidden or greatly restricted when growing organic. Many pests must be hand-picked and killed, or subjected to its natural enemy for control in the fields. This is part of the reason for the increased price. Our lakes, streams, and rivers benefit from a decrease in pesticide use. Insects which do no harm to gardens or are natural enemies to those that do, are allowed to increase in number by not using chemicals to eliminate them. There is also the added benefit of knowing your fruit and vegetables have never had poisonous chemicals on them that could harm you or your family.

Are the fruits and vegetables grown organically healthier for us? Anything that did not grow in chemicals harsh enough to kill insects, has to be healthier than those grown without. Is there a measurable difference? There have been no long-term studies to determine the effects of organic foods versus non-organic. At present, I would say the perception of organic foods makes us feel better. By growing organic, we are paying more attention to the soil and all living things surrounding our farmland than we have in the past. To lower the risk of insect larvae which have been buried in the dirt to await the arrival of new plants before hatching, crops are rotated. Compost and green manure are used to fertilize instead of using manufactured fertilize which can harm the soil over long periods of use.

The best word to describe organic agriculture is the word natural. By using plant food that occurs naturally, our plants have the best opportunity to survive and thrive. Organic plants are able to withstand long periods of drought. The yield is approximately the same for organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables. Organic foods have not been genetically altered to produce higher yields per acre. Many organic farms are using heirloom seeds to bring back the original plants from which our modern hybrids came. Americans have never tasted many fruits and vegetables in their original state.

For people who wish to plant their own vegetable gardens this year, a mixture of dish detergent and warm water will kill most insects that are decimating your crops. Just a few drops per gallon of water will be enough to spray most small gardens. Keep all fruit and vegetable scraps in a compost bin to generate your own rich earth to mix with garden soil or use in planters for Patio tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and many other vegetables. Hand pick those big green worms that are eating your tomatoes, plant and all. For the squeamish, wear garden gloves and use a walking stick to talk care of the green invaders.

The best thing about organic agriculture is the fact that less is better. You may spend more time with the crops, but you will also use less money to grow your crops while not harming the environment.