One would be living under the rock if they haven’t heard of the word ‘Organic’. Organic products, organic produce, organically generated, etc. There are so many terms that go ahead with organic these days. And why not. People want answers on what is going in their bodies, what are they consuming, or for that matter how the product is footprinting the environment and their health. People have become so conscious about everything that the origin and source of the product have become one of the most important factors for someone who likes the idea of sustainability and green living.
So what actually it takes to be organic and what are the standards, requirements, and prerequisites to call your product organic. Let’s have a simple read on how you can judge and produce or consume something that is good for your health and health of the environment. So lets read on:
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “ORGANIC” FARMING?
Organic farming actually is a farming system or let me put it in a way that is an agriculture practice that uses ONLY ecologically derived fertilizers and pest control measures usually coming from the waste of animals and plants or the dead nitrogen-rich browns of the crops.
Read : WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY
The word “organic” refers to a WAY or a PROCESS. Process or way any agricultural products are generated and produced or processed. Although the standard varies from country to country but generally speaking the produce of organic farming must be generated without the use of any petroleum-based pesticides, plastic and synthetic fertilizers, any sort of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), or any sewerage sludge-based fertilizers.
For the matter of organic meat or eggs or dairy produce, the livestock is supposed to be raised on organic feed only. They must be grazed outdoors and should not be subjected to any kind of medications; growth hormones, animal products, GMO’s, antibiotics or any enhances medications.
WHAT COMPELLED US TO “GO ORGANIC”
It is simple because it is a reflex measure or opposite of the use of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides on the food products in any stage of its processing. Needless to say that Organic Produce is a brainchild of numerous health hazards and ecological imbalance that was created and still being created by industrial and conventional agricultural practices.
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Organic farming is a great step towards ecological stability and benefits. It is being practiced in response to numerous environmental hazards and health issues that are being subjected by the use of chemical, plastic, synthetic products to enhance the growth of the farmland. Organic farming practices obviously doesn’t use synthetic pesticides up to some levels which avoid the nitrate seeping into groundwater & water table which in turn helps in balancing the natural cycles of the earth.
Great concept. The earth and ecology have been beautifully designed to work automatically. But the use of foreign-led substances that don’t suit the ecology and nature imbalances the cycle and then it’s a classic example of “ we reap what we sow.” With the water cycle disrupting with the chemicals and microplastic in the water reaching our oceans and hampering out marine life. Which intern hampers the balance with aquatic lifecycle and eventually to the entire organism and biodiversity including humans’ obviously? Yes, the chemical we put on the industrial agriculture produce is actually eaten and consumed by us in one way or the other.
BENEFITS OF ORGANIC FOOD?
There is a saying that we are what we eat. The food we consume has a major impact on our health. Be it physical or mental. And obviously there is no denying that; what major impacts it creates overall on the environment. Not sure that if the nutritional benefits are more or less than the conventionally grown food such as micro and macronutrients, or antioxidants, maybe it differs more or less but what overpowers the organic produce is absolutely no chemical and synthetic components entering our food chain and water cycles.
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Here are some on the benefits we see of organic food over conventional industrial agricultural produce:
Using insecticides for insects, Herbicides for plants, Rodenticides for rodents (rats and mice), Bactericides for bacteria, Fungicides for fungi, Larvicides for larvae.
Although there has been no study of organic food being more nutritious than normal conventional agricultural produce due the fact that is chemical and synthetic pesticide-free, it automatically makes it more reliable over other food.
FREE OF CHEMICAL AND POISON
Do you know that washing and rinsing can only reduce the pesticides but do not removes it? Peeling can remove but with peeling out, the valuable nutrition is also lost. An added problem is that even if you wash the complete pesticides it is still going down the drain and entering our water system. So its better to wash and scrub thoroughly and buy certified organic produce or grow your own food.
DOES NOT CONTAIN PRESERVATIVES
Added benefit of not consuming chemicals and synthetic plastic.
ORGANIC PRODUCE IS FRESHER
Since there are no preservatives added, organic food naturally is consumed when it is fresher.
BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
It is way better for the environment in the sense that it makes our planet healthy, enhances soil health, conserves water, stops pollution, uses less energy, and increase fertility. Also if no pesticides birds and animals are also happy because everything is clean and natural.
USES ETHICAL REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES
Also for soil health, avoiding all the monocultural techniques, organic farming is good for soil health and leads to ethical farming practices.
CLEAN ANIMALS / MEAT
Organically raised animals are not given any antibiotics and are not fed on animal waste or by-product resulting which the livestock is healthier and happier which eventually makes them clean and of better standards.
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MEAT AND DAIRY HAVE BETTER NUTRITIONAL VALUE
Since the animals are fed on non-chemical and organically grazed and raised, the outcome of meat and dairy is healthier and highly nutritious than the conventional factory farm led products
GMO AND GE FREE
Genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered produce is when you alter the DNA of animals and plants that changes the nature and taste and adaptability of the species. This is a mechanical process and is not possible naturally or with cross-breeding. An example of it is being completely resistant to pests or insects etc.
NATURAL AND BETTER TASTE
The cleaner and natural it is , the better it tastes. Simple.
PROBLEMS WITH CONVENTIONAL FARMING PRACTICES
- Soil erosion due to deep ploughing and repeated farming
2. Nitrate seep and runoff due to contaminated soil and surface water base
3. Lost of fertility of the soil due to excess use of chemicals
4. Encouraging the poisonous sprays to go in the food and eventually to our body that is creating serious health hazards
5. Use of more fuel cultivation
6. Unethical treatment of animals at factory farms
7. Spread of diseases and cruety to animals
8. Loss of diversity due to monoculture
9. Altering and modifying the genetics of plants and animals
10. Extinction of native plants and animals due to genetic engineering
READ MORE : POSSIBLE RISKS OF PESTICIDES
WHY ORGANIC PRODUCE IS EXPENSIVE?
So why you think organic produce is so expensive and is a turn down for people mostly. Let’s see the top reasons for that.
1. The labor inputs or involvement in organic products are more due to more care and intensive maintenance, which results in an increase in the production cost.
2. The demand is way more than the supply which is the obvious and the most common reason for it being expensive
3. Since the organic produce is preservative-free, the handling of the harvest is in small quantity and is taken care of more precautiously. This processing and high-quality transportation make it expensive.
4. Since the marketing and distribution chain for organic products is limited, the cost soars high due to small volumes.
5. The production cost of food is not very high but the enhancement and protection make it expensive like regenerative and rotational produce of the crops.
6. Its also high due to maintaining a certain standard for animal welfare and grazing
7. Equal and fair wages for the farmers also lead to an increase in cost for organic produce.
CONFUSIONS RELATED TO ORGANIC FOOD
- Labelling Standards
2. Affordability of consumers
3. Marketing strategy
6. Local vs organic – what is more sustainable.
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DEBATE : ORGANIC FOOD V/S LOCAL FOOD
Although organic is great what if the organic produce is traveling heaps and miles to reach you. Those ways if it supports one way of the ecological aspect, it is completely destroying the other. High footprint organic food is not sustainable. Local food is less traveled, grown locally according to the weather conditions and season which obviously suits better because it is designed for your locality and your surroundings. Usually, promote food that is sold in local farmers’ markets.
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Needless to say that we don’t know what kind of farming practices is being used by the local farmers. Are they using organic methods or are they actually certified organic? If they say they do. There are lots of grey areas but in our opinion talk to your local farmers, know about their farming practices, and what kind of methods they are using to harvest the food they are selling.
But overall local tops the chart on organic because it uplifts the local economy, help the community and the money goes directly to the farmer. The food is obviously cheaper because it is less traveled and has not been subjected to marketing and distribution aspects. Also, it is developed according to the need of your surrounding. Nature and naturally grown to suit the well being; so its any day better.
Another plus point of local food is transportation and energy factor. The organic produce that is not grown in your country is flown across borders to reach you. To be on perfect conditions the food is plucked or picked when it is still unripe and then transported and packed in factories with preservative and other plastic led processes like waxing, sealing coating, etc to reach you by the time its ready to be consumed.
This process is highly energy driven, expensive, and non-sustainable in the sense of wastage and resource-driven.
SO TALK TO LOCAL FARMERS AND CHOOSE LOCAL OVER ORGANIC UNLESS ITS GROWN IN YOUR LOCALITY.
ANSWERS TO ALL THE DOUBTS
Organic farm or produce is obvious has lots of benefits over conventional agricultural practices but is there any way out that this does not become an industry that is lead with marketing gimmicks and processing and packaged led traveled industry.
Growing our food in our garden and having a self-sufficient farm in our homes can be an answer. Can we give little more priority to build a garden to produce our food, create our products at home to reduce waste, and consume fresh? Also, another thing is to Compost our food. Composting comes naturally to enhance the soil and putting the food back to the soil. Giving back what we took.
Another room to look into while selecting the primary food we consume is ASK THESE 4 QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU BUY ANY KIND OF FOOD TO CONSUME:
Is the food safe to consume as free of pesticides and chemicals? It is contributing to the benefits of health and enhancement of the body
Is the food fair to the community. Are we leaving and consuming stuff that is preserved for the future generation or are we just consuming the resource-driven items that we want to consume?
Is the food not creating any environmental hazards or ecological imbalances and socio-economic pressure like human rights, equal pay, and unethical workforce – that includes carbon footprint as well?
Is the food grown with care and concern of sustainability? Whether it’s organically grown or is it under the regenerative agriculture processes or certified with reliable certified organizations?
If you are on the verge of asking these questions to yourself then definitely you are a conscious consumer, an eco-friendly soul, and think about the future. You are absolute on the right path.