To some, organic is just a trendy label that seems to get popped on to produce more and more each time you enter the shop. But there’s a reason for this growth in interest for organic food.
Whereas most food nowadays are sprayed with toxic pesticides and herbicides, unnatural fertilizers and all sorts of mind-boggling GMOs, organic food guarantees that anything unnatural is kept to an absolute minimum. And as concerns for the health of ourselves and our planet continue to grow, many are turning to organic shopping as a means of keeping things clean, green and completely natural.
But there’s also a lot of misconceptions about what organic farming is, what it does for us, and it’s overall ecological effects. We want to lay it out clear for you here, because here at the Forrist, we think that shopping organic and waste-free, sustainable living go together like plant-based pancakes and organic syrup.
Keep reading to find out why you should be making the most of our 20% off sale this Organic September…
Organic Vs industrial farming
Okay, so in recent years, many studies have come to the conclusion that organic farming isn’t inherently more environmentally friendly than what is referred to as industrial or conventional farming. They both have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to their effect on the planet and, in reality, a balance of the two, taking the best of each approach and combining them, would be the ideal way to farm ecologically. But, as it stands, farming options are fairly black and white - industrial or organic agriculture, and it’s up to you to decide which you believe is best for you.
But in making this decision, and evaluating the pros and cons of each, it is important to be aware of one crucial factor, especially when you start to see studies suggesting they are both as ecologically bad as each other. These studies are monitoring the environmental impact of organic and industrial farms, and so it doesn’t necessarily represent both farming methods as equally bad, but rather both farming industries as equally bad.
You see, organic farming’s biggest drawback is that it requires a greater amount of land mass. Because the process is more natural, it requires more space for the crops and livestock to grow in the way they would naturally. Because industrial farms can cram plants and livestock into unnatural environments, finding the most compact and convenient spaces, this is less of an issue.
The demand for more space comes hand in hand with issues like deforestation, as the clearing of land for agriculture is it’s leading cause. It is this preponderant difference which swings the balance for organic farming to stand equal with industrial farming on the ecological weighing scales
However, this is, in large parts, an industrial problem. Organic farming as a practice does inherently take up more space than industrial farming but it doesn’t have to take up too much space. It only does so as a result of our waste culture, as when you look at the statistics on food waste, it is glaringly obvious that we produce far more food than is needed, or at least, we do not effectively distribute this food. Reportedly, a whole third of the food that gets produced for us to eat, doesn’t end up being eaten, and is just thrown away. In theory, then, a whole third of the space that organic farming is taking up doesn’t need to be used. If everyone only bought as much as they needed, as well as influencing some admittedly immense systematic change in the food production cycle, the demand for this produce would be at a much more realistic level and so less space would be needed to meet these demands
What’s more, by re-evaluating what it is that we are actually farming, we can further reduce the amount of space needed for sustainable, organic practice. Livestock, in particular cows, are the worst culprits when it comes to dominating farm space. Where plant crops only take up the space that they themselves occupy, livestock need large pastures to roam and feed, and so they take up significantly more space. In fact, beef farming is the single biggest contributor to deforestation. If we were to rethink how we consume meat, cutting down and opting for more sustainable plant-based options, we would create even more space and further reduce this problem.
This would also go hand in hand with readjusting another factor that organic and commercial farming are supposedly level on – gas emissions. Again, these figures are proportional to the amount of space each method uses, and so the less space that is being used, the less harmful gasses are emitted. Also, by cutting down on our meat consumption as aforementioned, there is less demand for cattle farming, which means less methane. All in all, organic farming as a practice produces less harmful emissions than industrial farming. The levels of gas emissions are only the same at the moment because of how much space is being used, making this another land mass problem.
All this is to say, don’t be misled into thinking that organic farming methods and industrial farming methods are ecologically equal, organic farming’s only real downside in comparison to industrial farming is the amount of space it takes up, which is something that can be remedied with better, more zero-waste focused approaches to consuming and farming organic food. If we were to embrace a sustainable, waste-free approach to farming which relinquishes the space it uses to grow unused or unsustainable produce, organic farming becomes the clear ecological choice over industrial farming. That is why shopping organic is the perfect match with waste-conscious shopping.
But wait, there’s more!
So we’ve busted this myth that organic and industrial farming are two sides of the same coin by recontextualising the statistics a bit, and considering how some of the drawbacks of current organic farming can be undone. But there are even more ways wherein which organic farming is already trumping industrial farming on the ecological score board.
Firstly, organic farming requires much less energy than conventional farming, reportedly 45% less in fact, largely on account of the nitrogen-based fertilisers used in conventional farming. The manufacturing and transport of these fertilisers demand huge amounts of oil. Organic farms, on the other hand, use natural fertilisers like composts and manure, and so the only energy spent is that used to transport it, which is often little to none, as these natural fertilisers are commonly taken from the same farms they are used in, in a constant cycle.
On top of using less fossil energy, this natural, cyclical approach is also better for upholding the quality of the soil, by conserving more water inside it and inducing less soil erosion. This is further supported through the implementation of crop rotation, where the different crops grow on the same plot of land sequentially through the seasons, which optimizes the nutrients in the soil. For example, corn consumes a lot of nitrogen from the soil in its growing process, so after harvesting corn, a farmer may plant beans in the same plot of land, as beans return nitrogen into the soil, replenishing it and keeping it naturally healthy. This self-sufficiency also makes organic farming more reliable, and so it yields far more crops in times of drought than conventional farming.
The soil is also healthier as it isn’t exposed to the harmful man-made chemicals in the pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers that industrial farming uses. The same goes for the air and water that surrounds these farms, with no risk of toxic chemicals being leached into nearby waterways.
But what’s the actual food like?
Of course, one of the main concerns with the use of these nasty chemicals, is that they are getting sprayed directly on to the food many of us are eating! For most, the draw of shopping organic is that they know there is a much lower risk of their food being contaminated with these chemicals. Although, to be clear, there is a common misconception that organic farms use no chemicals whatsoever. This is untrue, some organic farms do use natural toxins incrementally, but far less than conventional farms where these substances are a key element to the foods production, and are only really used as a last resort.
Although, there are very few studies which show any significant differences in health benefits, it is known that organic food contains more antioxidants than their industrially farmed counterparts. This is because, when crops are growing naturally, they produce antioxidants as a means of fighting off disease and pests, like a self-made pesticide. Industrial farms spray their food with man-made pesticides, and so the food doesn’t need to develop these antioxidants themselves anymore. Antioxidants protect you from free radicals, which are unstable atoms which form when your body takes in food, smoke or radiation, and damage your cells, leading to problems like cancer and heart disease.
In addition, more and more inorganic farmers are using GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. Although there are very varied studies about the long term effects of GMOs on both the planet and the people who consume them, many people who have seen the more daunting studies on GMOs would rather not take any risks, and feel more comfortable eating good old fashioned “untampered” food.
And that attitude really does sum up why many choose to shop organic. They don’t need any stats, facts or scientific mumbo jumbo to tell them why organic food is better. Simply knowing that the food they consume is completely natural, coming from a natural, sustainable cycle, and rarely, if at all, sprayed with any man-made chemicals, is all they need. Eating organic just feels better, and for many, it tastes better too. Most people who eat organic just want to enjoy eating food that was grown the way nature intended it to grow.
And that way is a natural, untampered, self-sufficient cycle which gives back the resources it takes and doesn’t leave traces of toxic chemicals in the soil from which its food once grew, nor on the plates of the people who enjoy that food. That’s why organic shopping and waste-free, conscious shopping go hand-in-hand, and why all our produce and many of our household and toiletry items are 100% organic.
See for yourself how it feels to shop organic with a 20% discount, this Organic September.