Organic farming healthier, more efficient than status quo

Opinion graphic

Do you know where your food comes from? Most people prefer going to stores like Wal-Mart to buy conventionally grown food because it is abundantly available and relatively inexpensive. Most of these conventional products such as papayas, soybeans and corn are genetically modified – that is, they are GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms. Most processed products, such as flour, high fructose corn syrup and sweet corn, in most stores are GMOs; they have inserted a Bt gene that is used for pest control. Unless it is specifically labeled as “organic,” the sweet corn is probably Bt corn – but it won’t be labeled that way.

What about meat? Most of us may think that it is a healthy, natural source of nourishment, but this is not totally true. Meat is not solely harmful to animals; it is also equally harmful for people.

What is “organic?” Well, organic foods are essentially grown in healthy soil. According to USDA organic certification, organic soils have not had any synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides applied within three years of receiving certification. Organic foods are expensive because farmers who grow organic food do not use conventional methods to fertilize or maintain crop health. For instance, organic farmers frequently cultivate or pull the weeds, do crop rotations and spread manure or compost. Crop rotations help to build overall soil health. This process requires a lot of time and patience under the sun. It costs more because it requires intensive labor and careful chemical management. Organic farming methods are capable of producing yields similar to those of conventional farming methods. According to K-State’s data regarding tomatoes, and Rodale Research Institute’s data regarding corn and soybeans, organic methods are even capable of producing higher yields than those of conventional farms.

According to a study done by Cornell University, conventional farming’s dependency on chemical fertilizers destroys topsoil, which generates a $40 billion annual loss. If organic methods were used, we would see an increase in the healthiness of the topsoil, which could lead to produce higher in antioxidants. In addition, organic farming results in sequestration of more carbon, mitigating climate change. In conventional farming, the ground water is easily contaminated due to leeching of excess nutrients. However, in organic farming, the focus is on reducing potential of ground water contamination.

The adage, “Feed the soil, not the plants” describes much of the philosophy of organic farming. Healthy soil produces healthy plants and, in turn, healthy people and a healthy environment. Everyone should start trying organic food. Even organic meat, eggs and dairy products should be considered as they are produced from animals nourished with feed free of poisons.

We live in the world of conventional agriculture, yet still people are starving. Generally people may think that organic farming will not be able to feed everyone, but this is untrue. We could feed our entire population through urban agriculture alone. Grow food, not lawns! People in cities have a responsibility to localize food systems and return nutrients back to the soil through composting. We cannot simply rely upon processed, packaged and irradiated food. Industrial agriculture cannot feed the world; organic farming can.

“There are lots of reasons to try organics, including food safety and safety for the environment,” Rhonda Janke, professor of horticulture, said. “Lots of people are realizing it now, and that is why surveys show at least 70 percent of Americans are buying at least some organic foods.”

Monocultures cannot guarantee nutrition and food security as long as biodiversity can. For example, The Irish Potato Famine – or the Great Famine of Ireland – was caused by planting only one type of potato. Dangerous chemicals like pesticides were developed to kill life forms during wartime; these should not be applied to our crops to promote an outdated method of growing our food which places mankind in a vulnerable position.

Ecologists often use biodiversity as a measure of the health of an ecosystem. So if we destroy the health of the ecosystems where we grow our food, what does that imply for our own health? Local, organic food is better for our health and the long-term sustainability of our population. We can no longer rely on chemicals and synthetic fertilizers to feed our population.

  • Nicole

    I would encourage the writer of this article and anyone who had the misfortune to read and and believe it was factual to do some research and not just reiterate what one happens to stumble across from ill-informed bloggers.

    As for GM foods I would encourage you to read some of the questions on to dispel any concern you have about these products. They are not only incredibly safe, environmentally friendly, but they are more productive than organic. GM foods you mentioned are modified for other traits than just Bt. And crops modified for Bt. reduce the use of pesticides! How great is that?! Also you mention that “most processed products such as flour” contain gm material. Flour is made from wheat and there is absolutely no gm wheat in the market place.

    Organic is a great choice for consumers and producers and something I truly believe is a necessary niche in food production. However, in 2050 our population will be around 9.6 billion people and there is not enough space or resources for organic farming to feed these hungry people.

    I’m glad that you wrote about organic farming as it is an alternative to conventional. I believe that as a society we need to be better informed on the truth of how our food system really operates. However, before you write and publish something I encourage you to thoroughly research both sides of the topic rather than just spouting fear-mongering propaganda. There are not facts to back up your comment about animal meat production and there has been no study to prove that organic is healthier. Organic will not and can not feed the world, but through a variety different farming practices including organic, conventional, and utilizing technologies such as GM, together we can.

    Conventional agriculture is not ruining the world you and I enjoy. It is however, feeding us. So please show some appreciation to ALL aspects of farming and agriculture before you write an article disrespecting it. It is a conventional and organic farmer will feed both of us at least three times today.

    • Alex

      Um… as regards your reference to GM Wheat: there is quite a bit available and significant cross contamination of GM Wheat with other wheat see: . Also, I hope you realize that the is run by the people who make the most money selling GMOs (In their about us pages it says ” As the developers of biotech seeds with our farmer and agriculture partners, we want to make information about GMOs easier to find, analyze and experience. ” ). I wouldn’t trust that as your only source of information on this topic and your opinion of it.

      • Nicole

        I’m sorry you don’t view as a credible source of information. If you look at the people who answer the questions they are experts in the field of science, health and agriculture and in the use of GM technology in food and agriculture. Who else would you rather answers your questions? As someone who has done a lot of research on GM foods and how to communicate about them I selected this source because it is an easy way to find credible and true answers about GM foods without having to sort through scientific studies (which I have done).

        However as an alternative to you might want to try operated by The Center for Food Integrity (// You might also enjoy this opinion piece for the Ottawa Citizen // or this one from Science 2.0 //

        This one is a blog but the writer is a nurse and farmwife and she does pretty good research //

        Here is another great one from the perspective of an ag writer. It also is written in more of a blog/opinion format but it’s really shows the other side of the story when it comes to GM //

        If you would like to do more research and read scientific journals I would be happy to assist you in finding ones that could answer your questions but from an ease of reading stand point I think these get the point across.

        Also I would like to point out that while you question my sources, the source you site happens to be one of the least trusted out there. Everyone and their dog knows that Wikipedia cannot always be trusted in accuracy. However, I find it entertaining that in the third sentence of this Wikipedia article, it agrees with me.

        The third sentence plainly says,”no wheat is grown commercially.”

        Genetically modified wheat has never been grown commercially, nor has it been released for commercialization. If you are referring to the Oregon wheat incident in which a farmer reported finding Roundup Ready wheat in his field I would encourage you to research several articles before stating that our wheat supply is contaminated with GM wheat because the USDA, APHIS, and tests from all over the U.S. and foreign countries importing U.S. wheat have found no trace of GM wheat.

        // here is where you can follow the APHIS investigation of the wheat incident in Oregon. They are still reporting that it was a one field, one time, incident and nothing else has been found or reported. From that page you will find several other links to credible information on Biotech Wheat and this investigation.

        I hope that my information helps you in finding the truth about our modern agriculture system. Should you have any questions or desire more information or sources please feel free to ask.

  • GreenTerry

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article! When you tamper with Mother Nature, it wreaks havoc. We see this everyday in increased neurological diseases such as ADHD, Autism, Alzheimer’s, etc. based on the prevalence of synthetic (again – not natural) pesticides in our food supply. With GMOs, we now have no choice but to consume these science fiction mutant foods that have extremely limited testing for safety. Large chemical companies are pushing for their own agenda at the expense of our health and that of the environment. If you have pests, use something natural like Greenbug not synthetic chemical poisons that are A) harmful and B) losing effectiveness due to pesticide resistance therefore more lethal chemicals must be used. Crazy! Organic processes will ALWAYS be superior. Thank you for this article – I will share it proudly!