5 Ways Your Organic Food Choices Support Your Planet
Posted Sep 29 2012 11:23pm
When we consciously choose to eat organic, usually the reason is quite simply because organic food is “better for us”. Certified organic produce is free of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, and guaranteed free of GMO’s. Packaged foods which are certified organic are free from the agricultural toxins as well as the multitude of additives, flavourings and colours that are found in conventional packaged foods. So yes, organic is obviously the best choice for our own health, but how do our organic food choices impact on the health of our planet?
When we eat organic, we are also directly supporting the organic farming industry, which in turn directly supports a healthy and sustainable future for Mother Earth.
Organic growing contributes to improved soil quality. Many people are unaware that our soils are so depleted in essential nutrients and minerals that we no longer get the nutrition that we did from our foods a few decades ago. In order to obtain the “certified organic” label, the soil that the food is grown in must undergo testing and prove to be free of all prohibited chemicals over a period of three years prior to harvesting.
In addition to improving the quality of our soils, organic farming also helps to reduce soil erosion. With the absence of chemical fertilisers and a profusion of organic compost, the soil becomes looser and more porous, able to absorb and hold water better than conventionally managed soils.
Organic farming is more wildlife friendly. From animals to plant species, a more natural ecology is supported through organic methods. There are many studies supporting this, including a study from the University of Oxford that found that there is increased biodiversity on organically farmed land.
Conventional farming, using harmful chemicals, can contribute to the contamination of our water supply as the pesticides and herbicides used on the farm will run into the groundwater. This can negatively impact on the immediate marine life, as well as animals and plants who use the water supply all along its watercourse – not to mention us humans when we drink it! In supporting organic farming, you are also supporting a cleaner water supply for us all.
Farming has undergone radical changes in recent years, from small family farms to big industrial operations. Huge amounts of synthetic fertilisers are used and these take a huge amount of energy to manufacture.
In contrast, organic farming uses more natural methods such as organic compost and crop covers. Organic food also tends to be kept more local, reducing the pollution that results from food transport.
Farm animals are creatures of our earth, and the way in which they are farmed directly impacts farmland.
Organic livestock is fed its natural diet, rather than potentially contaminated grains, antibiotics and hormones. This is in contrast to conventionally-raised livestock that are given hormones to help them grow faster, and antibiotics are given en masse as a preventative measure to illness. The scary thing is that the preventative measures may be necessary given the poor hygienic conditions of the animals. With organic farming, animals are raised more humanely and more naturally, eliminating the need for these potentially dangerous situations for both livestock and the people who consume the animal products.
Organic certification also ensures humane living conditions for farm animals. It prohibits cattle feed lots, as well as battery farming of hens and pigs. Animals are allowed to live and breed naturally, and to interact with each other, in smaller groups. The animals have access to open pastures, shelter and shade, and can move freely between these.
As you can see, your choice of organic food really does have a real and lasting effect on our beautiful planet, so be sure to choose organic today!
Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) details the benefits of organics and is a great guide to organic certification.
The BFA guide, Buy Organic For 20 Good Reasons , is a fantastic list which includes references to peer reviewed research to support the claims made.
The Organic Trade Association (US & Canada) has some great information about the benefits of organic farming, and cites many scientific studies supporting organics while showing adverse effects from conventional farming methods.
Elaine Marie Lipson (2001), The Organic Foods Sourcebook, McGraw-Hill, USA.