Why organic food? Top 5 reasons
The answer is simple - organic food is safer for human health and the environment; hence, safe to say - it is wise to go organic.
Despite being more expensive than its counterparts, organic food is widely considered a healthy choice for human health and the environment.
With COVID-19 hitting us hard, 'Health & Safety' has now become the hot topic — the dominant discourse circulated in global space due to the loss of millions of lives. And now more than ever, we need to make informed decisions and choices for a better quality of life.
Organic food can be of those choices!
Organic food is the product of an organic farming system that aims towards environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable production without artificial chemicals, growth hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, or genetically modified organisms.
Organic farming is a holistic method of crop and livestock production that improves the well-being of all related agroecosystems consisting of plants, livestock, soil organisms, and people.
Below are the top five reasons why awareness of organic farming is necessary for informed decision-making regarding health and safety.
1. To avoid poison
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pesticides are among the leading cause of death by self-poisoning.
Despite efforts to curb the anti-pesticide narrative by corporate lobbying, the scientific community has long spoken about the harmful impact of pesticides on human health and the environment and the increasing number of chronic diseases among people with exposure to pesticides.
Organic food is not necessarily pesticide-free, but the pesticides used are not artificial and are often made of natural substances, reducing the intake of synthetic chemicals in our bodies.
According to WHO, the harmful effects of pesticides on health can be both short-term (acute health effects) and long-term (chronic health effects). Some of the common chronic effects include cancers, reproductive harm, congenital disabilities, and many other.
Farming is one of the primary reasons for soil degradation. Environmental studies suggest that the higher the organic matter in a soil sample, the healthier that soil is.
Soil health is the fundamental principle of organic farming.
The organic farming method uses techniques such as crop rotations, cover crops, and manures that generate a healthy, nurturing environment for fungi, bacteria, algae, protozoa, and other tiny creatures. This ecosystem of little creatures refers to as 'organic matter.'
The resultant healthy soil with the rich organic matter then supports the plants to reach their maximum growth and potential without the intervention of harmful synthetic chemicals.
Healthy soil also increases the disease resistance power in plants.
3. To prevent soil erosion
Increasing the organic matter in soil enhances the soil's ability to absorb water, reducing the impacts of drought and flooding.
Farming, whether organic or traditional, essentially involves soil degradation as tilting of soil breaks the soil configuration created by billions of soil organisms.
Tillage is bad for soil health!
In organic farming, the farmer ensures that the negative impacts are balanced with the positive ones, such as shallow tilling for lesser soil disruptions and cover cropping, a vital soil preserving technique of organic farming where the farmer grows plants only to till back into the soil. These processes that create the diverse ecosystem of billions of soil organisms increase the soil's water-holding capacity, thus decreasing soil erosion.
A study by Harvard Educational Institute found 18% to 184% higher soil erosion rates in conventional farming compared to organic farming.
4. To conserve water
Globally, water health is at risk, and water supplies have been dwindling more than ever. Organic farming helps conserve water by producing healthy soil and avoiding the use of harmful chemicals as pesticides and fertilizers.
The Rodale Institute report states that organic farming increases the soil's water retention capacity by 15%-20% more than conventional farming.
In short, organic farming helps in maintaining healthy watersheds.
5. To promote animal health and welfare
Animal welfare is a growing concern! It is a top priority for organic farmers because the regulations require organic farmers to grow animals without synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics. Organic farming is vital for good animal health and good farm economics.
Organic livestock farming focuses on five fundamental principles:
1. Creating a space for natural behavior: Organic farming ensures organic feed to the animals, access to the outdoors, and rich pastures, thus, letting the animals live in a natural environment.
2. Welfare than productivity: Organic farming aims at lifetime productivity than yearly productivity. Balancing productivity, longevity, and promoting biodiversity are of paramount importance to organic farming.
3. Creating a healthy environment: Overcrowding our farms burdens the soil with excess animal manure production that is often difficult for the soil to absorb. Limiting the stocking of animals per hectare of land ensures the maintenance of balanced nutrients in the environment.
4. Disease control and prevention: Strengthening the immune systems of animals through holistic methods is of primary importance in organic farming; thus, the concept of preventive allopathic medicine takes a backseat.
5. Banning of mutilation and painful practices such as dehorning
As consumers, organic food seems to be a better choice for a better future. This way, our food consumption pattern has a lower detrimental impact on the environment and its flora and fauna.