Choose organic for people and planet. 1 - 30 September.
There is growing evidence to show that organic farming is not just better for our bodies but it can also help to prevent climate change. Products that are labeled as organic are farmed and manufactured without any chemical additives, such as pesticides, fertilizers or genetic modification. Eating organic food is one of many ways we can all help to support our planet's recovery and regeneration.
As September is a month of celebration and awareness for organic farming and it's benefits, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about why I opted for majority organic products at Earthian Zero Waste Shop. It seemed natural to me that our food should be organic as well as packaging free so you'll find that all our dried, loose food goods are organic, including our herbs and spices. We also have organic chocolate and a range of organic face and body care products.
Organic farming and the soil:
Using chemical additives can contaminate the soil so that it struggles to thrive on it's own. One study showed that a teaspoon of soil with organic compost contained between 600 million and 1 billion unique and helpful bacteria. A teaspoon of soil treated with chemical fertilizer only contained 100 types of helpful bacteria. Pesticides, additives and fertilizers may increase yield temporarily but over time they strip the soil of naturally occurring nutrients and lifeforms.
Non-organic farming is also linked heavily to soil erosion. The use of chemicals to kill off weeds around crops leads to bare soil between crop lines. The exposed top soil is then thinned out by natural forces over time. Organic farming, which allows weeds to grow between crops and leaves areas of wild around the farms, protects the top soil from the elements. Research has shown that organic farms have up to 8 inches more top soil compared to non-organic farms.
Organic farming, fossil fuels and carbon:
The chemical fertilizer used in non-organic farming is made from nitrogen. It is manufactured using natural gas which is putting additional pressure and reliance on the fossil fuel industry. Haber-Bosch, creates over 100 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer each year, and in the process they use a full 1% of the planets annual supply of natural gas.
When natural gas starts to run out, the alternative source of nitrogen is coal cakes but the mining of coal and it's release of large amounts of carbon is not a good alternative. Essentially, the fertilizer that we use on non-organic crops is made from fossil fuels and is directly contributing to climate change.
The soil is also a huge carbon store and it has been shown in side-by-side studies of organic farms and conventional farms that organic soil stores more carbon in the long run. The Rodale Institute Farming Trial concluded that "if only 10,000 medium sized farms in the U.S. converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road".
Organic farming and water:
Rain water that falls on non-organic farms becomes contaminated by the chemical additives that have been sprayed on the crops and tilled into the soil. These additives then make their way to groundwater stores leading to poor water quality. Fresh water stores are dwindling and the polluted run-off from farms are contributing to a lack of suitable water supplies.
Organic farming has also been shown to use less water and need less irrigation. This is in part due to the addition of mulch and correct management of the soil to help keep its structure, which leads to better water retention on the surface levels.
Petroleum-based fertilizers have also been contributed to increased algae blooms. Algae isn't bad in itself but when their growth is overstimulated by fertilizer run-off reaching bodies of still water they can disrupt ecosystems. This excess in algae depletes oxygen in the water, killing fish, and blocks sunlight from reaching organisms lower in the water.
Organic farming and wildlife:
Organic farming practices encourage and support more biodiversity. Birds, insects and animals that live on farms can contribute to natural pest control and pollination of crops. In return, organic farms provide more space for wildlife to live in and crops free from chemicals as a natural source of food. According to the Soil Association, organic farming practices support more "on average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms, and there are around 75% more wild bees on organic farms. There are a number of reasons for this.
There is a clear case for more organic farming practices to benefit both the planet and our own health from the improved quality of food. If we were to increase the amount of organic farms across the globe the cost is likely to decrease as well, making it a more affordable and accessible option for more families to choose.
I enjoyed researching this blog and finding out more our soil. I've been amazed by how much organic farming can contribute to reducing climate change. I hope that you found it interesting too and if you can, choose to eat organic this September.