Once regarded as some sort of hippy or new age fad, today organic farming is almost mainstream. Of course, there was a time when all farming was organic. But after chemical pesticides and fertilizers were developed in the mid-19th modern farming as we know it began.
Agriculture expanded rapidly and factory farming of animals became the norm. This made farmers even more dependent on chemicals. When land became depleted from overuse, more fertilizers were used to keep it productive. When animals are packed into tiny living spaces, routine dosing of antibiotics was needed to stop diseases spreading. Meanwhile, consumer demand for more cheap meat led to growth hormone being added to animal feed.
The backlash was the organic farming movement. This began in the early twentieth century by pioneers who were concerned about where this so-called progress in was heading. The movement flourished in the late 20th Century thanks to a growing awareness of the environmental impact of modern farming, and concern about its effects on human health.
What it involves
Organic farming is not just a matter of removing the chemicals from the equation. It uses a whole different method designed to reduce the need for them. Natural fertilizers like manure enrich the soil and ensure that crops get the nutrients they need. Crop diversity discourages pests and encourages natural predators to avoid the need for pesticides
More humane and natural living environment lets animals grow and develop naturally. They don’t need routine antibiotics or growth hormones.
Organic farming is highly regulated. It has to meet standards set by regulatory bodies. Farms are subject to inspections and food and other produce are tested to ensure they meet their requirements.
Better for the environment: It is in harmony with the ecosystem instead of working against it. Residue from pesticide can find their way into rivers and kill many insects in addition to the ones that are considered pests.
Better for animal welfare: Animals lead healthier happier lives and have access to pastures and outdoor space. They are also allowed to grow at their natural rate instead of being given hormones to speed up the cycle form rearing to slaughter.
The origin of the devastating outbreak of BSE was contaminated bovine tissue being used in feed for cows, who are natural herbivores.
Healthier: food Many pesticides sprayed on crops cannot be removed by washing and often exceed “safe” levels.
Better for workers: Workers are not exposed to harmful chemicals. In some countries, regulations are less strict. Farmworkers can be exposed to high doses of pesticide and other chemicals during their work
Cost: Organic food is generally more expensive, but some items more expensive than others. Locally grown seasonal food is less expensive. The biggest difference is seen in meat and poultry. With grains like flour, oat, and rice there is often little difference. Fruit and vegetables vary depending on what is in season.
Certification is costly: Unfortunately, the cost of getting organic certification is out of reach for some smaller producers. Although they might meet all the requirements, they are not allowed to advertise their products as organic without it.
Less choice: This is true especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables which can be more limited. However, as organic farming becomes more popular the range of what is available keeps expanding. Along with farm produce, you can now buy organic flowers, cotton clothing, and wine. And although some claim that organic wine doesn’t give you a hangover, that is still to be proven.