Learn About Organic Farms – The Oven Door

Learn About Organic Farms

Why You Should Support Organic Farms

When chemical use was introduced to farming, it was a phenomenon and everyone was excited to see how it was going to revolutionize the industry. And revolutionize, it did. But along with it came a few trade-offs. These days, as the trade-offs become more apparent, there is a movement to revert to organic farming.

But switching back to organic farming methods has not been easy, especially after years of reaping the so-called benefits of what is more popularly known as conventional farming. Yet, organic farms are exactly what the world needs right now.

What are organic farms anyway? How are they different from conventional farms? And why should we support them?

What are Organic Farms?

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has clearly defined the standards of organic agriculture, listing its four principles as follows:

  1. Health. The sustenance and enhancement of the health of the soil, plant, animal, human, and planet should always be taken into consideration.
  2. Ecology. Living ecological systems and cycles must be emulated and sustained.
  3. Fairness. There should be regard for the common environment and life opportunities.
  4. Care. Because the present and future generations should always be considered, farms should be managed in a precautionary manner.

Keeping true to these principles, organic farms use a totally sustainable farming system, where plants and animals are cultivated in what can be defined as “natural ways”. Crops are grown and nurtured through biological means — compost, green manure, biological pest control, crop rotation, and more. The key is no synthetic substances and absolutely no genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

But what makes organic farming better than conventional farming? And what does that mean for us?

Organic vs. Conventional Farms

We all know by now the key difference between organic and conventional farming: use of chemical substances. But to completely understand their differences (and also grasp why sustainable farming has not been as sustainable as it hopes to be), here’s a quick comparison of their methods:


CONVENTIONAL

ORGANIC

Before seeds are sown

Land is treated or fumigated to exterminate natural fungicides.

Land is prepared and enriched through natural-based fertilizers, such as bone meal, shellfish, manure, etc.

Seed treatment

Seeds are soaked in fungicides and pesticides in an attempt to ward off insects.

Seeds are planted as is, no fungicides or pesticides.

Water irrigation

Even the irrigation water is treated with chemicals to ward off insects..

Avoids water irrigation, as much as possible, for conservation. Would rather rely on natural rain and stores rainwater for dry months.

Weed removal

Relies on weedicides.

Physically weeds out or uses flame weeder and/or animals.


So aside from the advertised advantages of conventional farming — higher yields and supposedly healthier soil — many farms choose inorganic methods because they are less labor-intensive. Especially when it comes to removing weeds, organic methods require a lot of effort.

Conventional farming, however, has been hounded with issues such as health concerns, pollution, negative impact on domestic animals, and — most intriguing — degradation of soil. Also interestingly, the claimed benefits of this type of farming method could also be achieved through organic means and without the harmful effects of chemicals.

The Farming Systems Trial verified that, within three years of transitioning from conventional to organic farming, there is indeed a decline in yields. But as the soil rebuilds its health, organic farms catch up to conventional farms when it comes to yields. During times of drought, they even produce 40% higher yields. And as expected, these farms emit fewer greenhouse gases and use 45% less energy.

A similar test in California by Earthbound Farm also showed that soil does get healthier over years after transitioning to organic farming methods and matches or exceeds yields of conventional farming methods.

There needs to be more research to back up data from these two studies. It would really be beneficial to the industry if results are replicated in more bioregions. Unfortunately, conventional farms have more funding in terms of research, and so organic farms pale in comparison when it comes to proving their benefits.

Looking at the market though, there has been a significant increase in organic food sales in the US over the past few years. If the demand continues to increase, the hope is that the government and the industry follows in providing additional support. While it might take awhile for the government to put in their support, farmers don’t have to wait to transition.. The only thing they really need is an assurance that there will be a place to sell their products at a fair price.

5 Reasons to Support Organic Farms and Products

Organic farmers need you. When you buy organic foods, you not only support farmers, but you also help increase demand for organic foods.Here are 5 more reasons to support organic farms and products.

1. Better and more natural taste. 

Since organic products are grown in nourished soil, many attest that they have better and more natural taste. This is due to terroir, a French term for the effect of soil characteristics on the flavor of what’s grown there. The healthier the soil then, the healthier the crops.

Another reason organic products taste better is that organic farmers prioritize quality over quantity, so you can be sure their crops are well taken care of.

2. More nutrients.

Because they are grown on healthier soil, organic fruits and vegetables are also higher in vitamins and minerals. Take for example an organic vs. conventionally-grown tomato. The former is found to have 50% more vitamin C than conventionally grown tomatoes.

3. Glyphosate-free.

Organic farm methods don’t use pesticides, so crops are nourished through purely sustainable practices — this means you get food that’s free of glyphosate and other pesticide residues.

Ever since pesticides have been widely used in conventional farming, studies have shown that residues from these chemicals remain on our food. While pesticide residue levels are regulated, there’s still risk of poisoning.

Not only that, an experiment has shown that pesticides also affect flavor. In a blind taste test conducted by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and the chef Jérôme Douzelet, wine connoisseurs and culinary experts preferred organic wine 77% of the time. Asked to describe wine with traces of pesticide residues (4686 parts per billion vs 0 on organic wine), the participants said it had a “drying” effect and brings about an impaired sense of taste.

4. No GMOs.

GMOs have not been proven to be safe for short-term or long-term consumption. Since the US and Canada do not require all GMO products to be labeled, the only way to be sure that you’re not serving potentially harmful food to your family is to use organic ingredients.

5. Highly-authenticated.

Unlike products grown conventionally, organic products undergo rigorous quality checks and testing. In the US, any brand or product making an organic claim should be certified as compliant with the production, handling, and labeling guidelines set by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA has created standards for organic crops and products that “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity”. These standards rely on factors such as soil quality, pest and weed control, and use of additives. The federal department requires that organic produce be grown on soil that has not used synthetic pesticides and fertilizers at least three years prior to harvest.

All One Degree Organic Foods products are certified and come with the USDA Organic seal. We believe in food transparency, and we’ve placed it at the heart of what we do in an effort to bring back trust and integrity to the food industry. 

Do more for the environment and for your family’s health. Continue to shop for organic produce, and support organic farmers.