Day: July 7, 2011

Organic and Sustainable Food

In order to be labeled “organic,” a product, its producer, and the farmer must meet the USDA’s organic standards and must be certified by a USDA-approved agency. Organic foods cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot be irradiated. Organic meat and poultry must be fed only organically-grown feed (without any animal byproducts) and cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics. Also the animals must have access to the outdoors.

A product can be considered sustainable if its production allows the resources from which it was made to continue to be available for future generations. A sustainable product can be created repeatedly without generating negative environmental effects, without causing waste products to accumulate as pollution, and without compromising the wellbeing of workers or communities. Many different agricultural techniques can be used to help make food production more sustainable. The drawback of the term ‘sustainable’ is that the term lacks a clear-cut, universally-accepted, enforceable definition. It is more of a philosophy or way of life than a label.

Reasons to Eat Organic and Sustainable Foods

  • Taste
    Many people buy organic food because they believe it tastes better than non-organic.
  • It’s healthier
    On average, organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants.
  • No harmful additives
    Out of hundreds of food additives approved for use, only 43 are permitted in organic food. Unlike additives used in non-organic food, none of the additives used in organic food production are considered harmful.
  • Avoids pesticides
    Organic growing practices prohibit synthetic insecticides, fungicides and herbicides used routinely on non-organic food crops. Many of the EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before research linked them to cancer and other diseases.
  • GM-free
    Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are not allowed under organic standards.
  • Doesn’t rely on drugs
    Antibiotic additives routinely added to animal food to speed animal growth are linked with bacterial resistance in humans to the same or closely related antibiotics. USDA organic standards ban the use of antibiotics.
  • Protect farm worker health
    According to a National Cancer Institute study, farmers exposed to herbicides had a six-times greater risk than non-farmers of contracting cancer.
  • Good for wildlife and the environment
    Organic farming supports more wildlife than non-organic farming. It preserves biodiversity, reduces pollution from chemicals, and produces less carbon dioxide gas — the main global warming gas — with less dangerous waste.
  • Save energy
    Non-organic farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry. Organic farming relies mainly on labor-intensive practices such as hand weeding, green manures and crop covers rather than chemical fertilizers, improving the soil while saving energy.