Organic Food – How Organic Farming Methods Affects the Environment
Organic food is food produced in ways complying with the environmental standards of organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is growing techniques that replenish the natural resources of the soil while maintaining a sustainable yield over time. Organic farming methods vary globally, but organic farming techniques include practices that preserve biodiversity, restore ecological balance, cycle natural resources, and protect the environment. Organic farming does not use synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Some organic foods may be free from chemicals but many still use chemicals to grow, manipulate, extract, or process plant life.
Organic food can also be described as foods that have had no chemicals added to them during the growing process and processing, or when they are processed (this includes washing, drying, grinding, branding, chopping, peeling, or packaging). Many organic foods are grown in the same place as conventional produce, but all organic produce is certified at a national standard. Organic certification is performed by third-party organizations that test for both safety and quality.
The National Organic Program (NOP) was formed in the early 1980s to serve as a clearinghouse for information about organic farming. It is a voluntary organization that serves as a clearinghouse between growers and consumers for organic foods. The National Organic Program serves as a guide for the certification of organic agricultural products. Each year, the National Organic Program approves a list of approved organic agriculture standards and certifies those products.
Since the demand for organic foods is increasing, many companies have entered the market to meet this increasing need. However, not all organically grown foods are the same. They usually differ in several ways. Organic foods that are grown without using chemicals generally have higher nutritional value than those that are grown with chemical additives. Those that are grown in the most nutrient-deficient conditions tend to have lower nutritional value than those that are grown in better conditions.
Many consumers are concerned about the environment. For this reason, organic foods often feature a lower level of chemicals and pesticides than those produced with conventional farming techniques. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has advised that organic food should contain only those substances that are “essential” to human health. Those substances are required to be listed on the label of any organic food. They must meet the requirements set forth in the U.S. National Organic Program as well.
Because of the stricter guidelines set forth by the National Organic Program, organic foods are generally more expensive than conventional foods. This is because organic farmers are generally more costly to hire and require more land, equipment, chemicals, labor and time to operate. Organic farmers must pay more attention to the health of their produce to ensure that it meets the certification requirements. In order to maintain certification, organic farmers must also spend the time and money to carefully inspect their produce to make sure that it continues to remain safe for consumption.
Organic farming methods include an interdependence on Mother Nature. Organic farmers must work to protect the environment from pollution. The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides is limited and controlled to meet the requirements set forth in the National Organic Program. New methods, such as aquaculture, have developed so that organic foods can be farmed safely and efficiently.
Concerns about the environmental impact of organic farming are not new. Concerns about the cost of organic foods have existed for decades. Today, with new technologies and the awareness of how our society affects the environment, those worries may be changing. Organic farmers are concerned about the costs of synthetic chemicals and the effect that they have on water supplies. While many consumers have become aware of these issues through the efforts of organic farmers, they remain largely unaddressed by mainstream consumers.