Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The virtuous cycle of organicsOrganic farming and the consumption of organic food creates a positive feedback cycle – healthier food, cleaner planet, happier people. The cycle goes something like this:
- Organic farming techniques result in improved soil quality and fewer chemicals entering into the environment.
- Improved soil quality results in better water retention, reduced run–off and a higher nutrient content.
- Reduced run–off along with reduced chemical usage results in cleaner water systems.
- Reduced pesticide usage results in an increase in biodiversity and strengthened eco–systems.
- The reduced chemical input means less energy is being spent to product petro–chemical based fertilizers.
- Reduced energy and fossil fuel consumption means reduced emissions and therefore cleaner air.
- We get healthier food, cleaner water and cleaner air resulting in healthier, happier people.
- When people choose organic products over the alternatives it encourages farmers to choose organic methods, therefore strengthening the positive cycle.
- GM crops encourage the use of herbicides (like Monsanto's Round–up ready crops).
- Farmers cannot propogate their crops (which hands over food security to large corporations) or develop seed varieties suited to their soil and environment.
- Conventional methods require the addition of chemical fertilisers to maintain soil quaility.
- Exclusive use of chemical fertilisers results in a narrow spectrum of nutrients in the soil.
- Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides run–off and pollute the water system.
- Pesticides result in the death of beneficial birds and bugs.
- More energy and fossil fuels are spent on the production of chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, resulting in more emmissions and dirtier air.
- Potential health concerns exist.
- Lower quality food as well as dirtier air and water – more unhealthy and unhappy people.
Cost is a factor of supply and demand, but is also influenced by organic certification costs which are high and ongoing. Small organic farmers are often unable to afford full organic certification, but their non–certified organic goods may be available at better prices through farmers markets, co–ops and CSAs. If costs is an issue, but you want to reduce your pesticide intake, then you can focus on choosing organic varieties of the top offending foods on this list.
If you are in Cape Town or the surrounding areas you can get reasonably priced organic produce from fully certified, as well as non–certified, organic farmers via The Ethical Co–Op.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Dickert, licensed under a creative commons license.
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Engineer Simplicity specialises in the design and development of electronic products.
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