Organic Farming: How it Helps Our Health, the Animals & the Planet!

What is Organic?

Once upon a time Mom's and Dad's would simply call this food. Due to Big Agriculture, like Monsanto with their GMOs (genetically modified organisms), RoundUp & various other pesticides, we now have to label naturally grown , whole foods organic. Whats more is that in order to be labeled organic, farmers have to go through an extensive U.S. Department of Agriculture guideline process including not using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or sewage sludge. In addition they must pay a large chunk of money for the application and inspection process that comes with wanting to grow food without all the fillers. The money it takes for the application process is what creates the price disparities for conventional and organic food, all this just so we don't confuse FOOD for Franken-food.

Pesticides Travel Fast to Far Away Places

In the last few years more scientists have been studying pesticides, trying to find out how far and how fast they travel through the environment. Researchers are recently finding, that commonly used pesticides used on California farms are now being found in Pacific Chorus frogs living in national parks, forests and remote locations high in the Sierra, Nevada mountains. In some cases the frogs lived over 62 miles from the nearest farm that used pesticide chemicals. 

Kelly Smalling, the lead author on this study stated,  "This is the first time we've detected many of these compounds, including fungicides, in these remote locations." Discovering pesticide exposure in these frogs has shown to cause problems for their immune systems and has brought to light that these chemicals could in fact be effecting the way these frogs developed. Male frogs are showing signs of adopting high amounts of female traits. 

Amphibians are on a steady decline and pesticides are playing a role in this. Sad to say, these are not the only animals being effected by pesticides, many other animals such as the Honeybees are being effected as well. 

A problem known as Colony Collapse Disorder causes what seem to be healthy bees suddenly abandon the hive! Without worker bees the hive, eventually dies. In a study published in the Bulletin of Insectology that looked at 18 beehives for almost a year, noticed that as bees go around collecting pollen from plants that have been sprayed with these harsh chemicals they pick them up on their coats and not only spread them other places but they harm themselves in the process. Without bees, farmer's crops cannot and will not pollinate. Some crops that need bees include almonds, cherries & broccoli just to name a few. If too many bees die the farm harvest shrinks leading to food shortages. 

Nutrient Rich or Soil Poor?

Conventional farmer's that use these harsh pesticides are known to be dirt poor. This means that their soil is horribly deficient in the amount of nutrients, vitamin and minerals the food actually has. Since organic farmers cannot use synthetic sources of fertilizers, such as ammonia salts, they'll plant beans instead as a natural fertilizer to add nitrogen to soil. Anything planted after the beans will use the nitrogen left in the soil. This is a huge reason why factory farms do not work. You cannot continuously plant the same plants over and over and over on the same soil and expect it to not get depleted in nutrients. 

Everything in life has a balancing point we must respect. Phosphorus and nitrogen although highly important to plant growth, in excess, can end up in water ways which deposit into lakes creating an overgrowth of algae. This growth is known as algae blooms which can kill fish and aquatic life. Since organic farming soil retains water better than that of conventional farming soil theres little to no runoff and water pollution is avoided. 

Organic farmers use compost, a soil enriching mix of decomposed plants, food waste and paper. Compost provides nutrients for plants and is rich in microscopic life such as microbes. The more microorganisms your soil has the better the soil's health. Healthy soil can help plants take in nutrients and helps them hold water in the root zone, where plants need it most. A study published in a British Journal of Nutrition showed that healthy soil actually surpasses plant disease. The study also resulted that crops grown the organic way were 17% higher in antioxidants than this grown conventionally. 

In short, eating an organic, whole foods lifestyle is better for your health due to the higher quantities of nutrients in them. Since they are more nutrient dense they hold flavor and taste ten times better then those crops grown with depleted soil, filled with ammonia salts and sprayed with chemical pesticides. Picky eating children are more likely to enjoy a richly flavored fruit or vegetable over the tasteless, nutritional dead crops. Eating organic saves the soil, saves our food supply, our environment and saves our overall ecosystem. 

Eat organic for a better & brighter future!

 

Lily Choi