Choosing Organic: Better for you and the planet!

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Organic food is not only better and healthier for human health, but for the environment as well, according to a French study.

Reducing the consumption of animal products is important because these products are more harmful to the environment than plant-based ones. This is because livestock farming needs high energy and greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, intensive livestock production significantly adds to biodiversity loss because natural habitats are being turned into grass and feed crops.

The way food is produced may also affect sustainable diets, and one of the more eco-friendly food production methods is organic agriculture.

As a result, the research team aimed to investigate how various diets, particularly plant-based and organic foods, affect the environment. The research team looked at the environmental effects of both dietary patterns and farm production systems as well as the environmental impact of organic food consumption through an observational study. The team analyzed the food consumption and organic food consumption of more than 34,000 French adults. In order to identify the participants’ preferences for plant-based or animal-based products, they used a pro-vegetarian score. Moreover, they conducted production life cycle environmental impact assessments at farm level against three environmental indicators – greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand, and land occupation.

The team found that a plant-based diet lessened diet-related environmental impacts, particularly greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, they also warned that the environmental effects of production systems are all different and can be affected by climate, soil types, and farm management.

The findings of the study, which were published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, suggest that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, especially organic ones, is better for both human health and the environment in comparison to animal-based products. (Related: Organic Foods Provide More than Health Benefits.)

Benefits of organic food

Organic is the term used to define the method agricultural products are grown and processed. In the U.S., organic produce must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, bio-engineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. For organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products, they must have access to the outdoors and be given organic fee, while antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal byproducts must not be given to them.

Here are some benefits of organic food:

  • Organic food lessens your exposure to chemicals – Organic food reduces your chemical exposure as it contains fewer pesticides.

  • Organic food is fresher – Organic food is also often fresher because it does not contain preservatives that prolongs its shelf life.

  • Organic farming is better for environmental health – Organic farming is better for the environment because its practices involve less pollution soil erosion, and energy. Eliminating the use of pesticides in farming also benefits nearby birds and animals and people who live close to farms.

  • Organic food is GMO-free – Genetically modified organisms (GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA were altered in ways that do not occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

  • 4. Organics don’t inhibit the growth of super strains

    Nature always adapts. Spraying chemicals to kill bugs only makes them grow, adapt to overcome the horrible toxins we use to kill them. There will always be something that eats the plant, and it will continue to grow and adapt until we no longer have control over it. The toxins we use will eventually become ineffective and plants and pests will become much more harmful.

    5. Organic farming supports pollinators

    Herbicides and Pesticides do not differentiate between good and bad bugs, it simply kills them all. In order for there to be life on earth we need to maintain a certain level of biodiversity; this includes everything from the biggest mammals to the tiniest of insects. Organic farming practices healthy growing techniques that aim to maintain that necessary level of biodiversity.

    6. Organics support a healthier farm lifestyle and a healthier community

    Growing food organically does not harm the surrounding community in which it’s grown. Unlike non organic practices, organics keep toxins out of the air, out of the drinking water and out of the soil. Farmers aren’t exposed to herbicides and pesticides all day; and if food is bought at the market where it’s grown, it reduces transportation costs and emissions.

    7. Organic foods are often more nutrient rich

    Organic foods get their nutrients straight from healthy, rich, organic dirt. If the dirt is healthy then there should be no need for fertilizers. Non organic crops get their nutrients from synthetic fertilizers made from fossil fuels. Years of not replenishing the soil with organic matter forces farmers to add synthetic fertilizers. This leads to nutrient deficient crops grown from the same thing that fuels our cars. We’ll let you make up your own mind on this one.

    8. Preserve agricultural diversity

    The rampant loss of species occurring today is a major environmental concern. It is estimated that 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost in the last century. Leaning heavily on one or two varieties of a given food is a formula for devastation. For instance, consider that only a handful of varieties of potatoes dominate the current marketplace, whereas thousands of varieties were once available. 

    Now, dig back to recent history's potato famine in Ireland, where a blight knocked out the whole crop, which consisted of just a few varieties, and millions of people died of starvation. Today, most industrial farms also grow just one crop rather than an array of crops on one piece of land. Ignorance is bliss? Or amnesia is disastrous? Crop rotation is a simple and effective technique used in organic agriculture to reduce the need for pesticides and improve soil fertility. 

    Most conventional food is also extremely hybridized to produce large, attractive specimens, rather than a variety of indigenous strains that are tolerant to regional conditions such as droughts and pests. Many organic farms grow an assorted range of food, taking natural elements and time-tested tradition into account. Diversity is critical to survival.

    9. Support farming directly

    Buying organic food is an investment in a cost-effective future. Commercial and conventional farming is heavily subsidized with tax dollars in America. A study at Cornell University determined the cost of a head of commercial iceberg lettuce, typically purchased at 49 cents a head, to be more than $3.00 a head when hidden costs were revealed. The study factored in the hidden costs of federal subsidies, pesticide regulation and testing, and hazardous waste and cleanup. 

    Every year, American tax dollars subsidize billions of dollars for a farm bill that heavily favors commercial agribusiness. Peeling back another layer of the modern farming onion reveals a price tag that cannot be accurately measured but certainly includes other detrimental associated costs such as health problems, environmental damage, and the loss and extinction of wildlife and ecology.

    10. Keep our children and future safe

    Putting our money where our mouths are is a powerful position to take in the $1 trillion food industry market in America. Spending dollars in the organic sector is a direct vote for a sustainable future for the many generations to come.

For more info go to Organics.news.

Sandy Yang