What is Organic Farming?
by Jeremy Pickles
Organic farming is the production of food using all natural methods - avoiding all synthetic chemicals and genetically modified organisms. Its` core philosophy is that of sustainability or `zero impact`. The organic farmer seeks to leave the earth in its` natural state after the harvest.
The focus of organic methods is on soil quality. Crops are grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides, and livestock is reared free of drugs and hormones. Proponents of organic food believe it produces food with higher quality and nutritional value than conventional chemical-based methods.
Many countries including the US and the EU have certification programs to control the use of the term `Organic`. This benefits the consumer by ensuring best practice has been followed. This varies from region to region but includes things like the minimum length of time a field can be left free of chemicals before it is allowed to be used for organic farming.
There are many different styles of organic food production but they all adhere to the same principles:
* no artificial fertilizers or drugs
* no genetically modified organisms
* prevention of soil depletion
* `biodiversity` - the growing of a range of crops not just a single species.
One recent researcher found that vegetables in the 1950s contained more than eight times as many trace elements as modern crops, which he attributed to the excessive use of nitrate fertilizers. You can read all the latest research at http://www.ge-free.com/
Organic farming has come about as a consumer reaction against the chemical based methods that have been used so widely in 20th century food production. Really though it is simply a formalised definition of traditional agriculture as it has been practiced for thousands of years before 20th century chemicals were invented.
So far, organic farming has been limited to small businesses growing for local markets. Organic farming methods are very expensive compared to their chemical counterparts, and the production yields are low when compared to `conventional` farming.
Consumers of course are willing to pay a premium for the improved flavour and nutrition value of organic produce but it remains a premium market. This will change as more large scale organic producers enter production.
Most countries now have `all organic` type food stores in the larger cities. So long as there are people who enjoy healthy living and an alternative to the chemical ridden norm, these businesses will continue to flourish.
Jeremy is the owner of http://www.ge-free.com/ and publisher of Organic Food News.