I am always interested to hear people’s view on why they choose the food they do, and the reasons they put behind it. People are often so tied up in the way they choose and in order to defend it they will look for any piece of evidence that can support their point of view. As any good defense lawyer knows, anyone can do that. But do you understand both, and are you making an informed decision?
But before we weigh in on organic vs. conventional, lets define a few things.
What is Organic?
As described by Wikipedia: Organic foods are those that are produced using environmentally sound methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.
What is Conventional?
Conventional is pretty much the opposite. Using industrial, environmental polluting equipment, the soil is infused with synthetic fertilizers and GMO seeds, and then treated with herbicides and pesticides to “protect” the crop from harm. This allows for mass production.
Where’s the Argument in Organic vs Conventional?
Proponents of organic farming would state that they prefer their foods are not contaminated with chemicals that cannot be used by the body and then stored as toxins which will eventually do them harm. They may also point out that organic food is higher in nutrients due to a richer soil content (conventional methods strip the soil of these nutrients), and for the same reason, are a lot tastier. The lack of industrialization also has less impact on the environment.
Supporters of conventional farming will argue that fertilizers, GMO seeds, and weed/insect destroying chemicals are required in order to feed the world’s population. The industrialization of agriculture has allowed fewer farmers to do more for food output. They would also point out that their practices do not make the food any less tasty, less nutritious, and it is a lot cheaper.
As someone who has used the industrial method during his experience on a conventional farm (which was sold in 2006), and also enjoys organic food to the fullest, both have their points. At this point, as hard as it is for me to say it, I believe both are required – for now. Here’s why.
We are between a rock and a hard place
My heart is with organic. I know that it is cleaner, tastier, more nutritious, and I choose organic for pretty much everything I can find. However, this movement is not set up to feed the world right now. Too many people are not aware how to produce their own food. During this transitional period, we need to phase out one method and bring in the other, but this can’t happen overnight. The industrial revolution took a long time, and it will take a bit of time to unwind as well.
But to put a dent in my own argument, some say that we are producing more food than ever and a billion people go undernourished and 25,000 people die of hunger each day. So it’s not just production, it’s also allocation.
At some point we managed to get along without industrial methods, and everyone had some skin in the game when it came to producing their own food. However, with industrialization came more jobs off the farm, more people working for someone else rather than themselves, a movement from farms to suburbs, and eventually two parent families both going to work 8 hours a day which left little to any time or knowledge to produce their own food.
Some of us need to go back.
In order to help feed the world those of us who are capable need to start feeding ourselves. We need to start growing our own gardens whether it is our backyard, community garden, or fire escape. We need to start producing 10% or more of our yearly food intake, and start relying less on cattle and other animals to make up the majority of our caloric intake. If everyone produced 10% of their food needs on a North American scale, how much of a relief would that give conventional farming methods, which would result in less treatment to our foods, and less impact on the environment? If everyone on a large scale decides to do a little, it would mean a lot.
In addition to that, how would you like to spend time with your family and kids teaching them where food comes from and seeing the success principles on preparing the soil for a harvest? I know for some of you it seems nauseating at first, but like anything that has true value, eventually you would see the worth.
Over a period of a decade, if we could manage to make this transition back to a more rural society, and have people become more self-sustainable, it would unwind many practices and excesses that are draining and damaging to society today.
I believe that organic is the best way for our health, children’s future, and the environment, but we must sort through the present situation first and start enacting the changes so we can eventually come full circle.
But we must start now. If we don’t, a crisis will be required in order for someone to take notice. I personally prefer the former.
So who wins in the organic vs. conventional debate? For me, organic is the superior solution for people’s health and the planet on a long-term basis (as in, we want to be around and have a nice planet forever). Conventional may feed more people, and may appear cheaper, but like the threats of inflation, what’s the real cost to the consumer in health care, and having a clean place to live?
It’s time for a massive mind shift.
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