Crop productions have increased dramatically over the last 20 years, but the general public has started to push back against the idea of eating genetically modified items. This has led to an increased push as of late for organic farming. By removing industrialized agriculture out of the food chain, some advantages and some disadvantages are achieved. Here is a look at the pros and cons of organic farming.
The Pros of Organic Farming
1. Foods have better mineral content.
The human body needs vitamins and minerals to help stay balanced and regulated. Organic foods have a mineral content that is far superior to industrially grown foods, making it easier to stay healthy while achieving a better overall nutritional profile. This better mineral content also helps to protect the soil that is growing the crops as well.
2. There is less of a pesticide risk.
Industrial farming requires extensive weed control in order for profits to be achieved. This means herbicides and pesticides are often applied to remove pests and weeds that can reduce yields. The outcome of this, however, is that people who consume these foods are at a higher risk of being exposed to the chemicals that are used.
3. Organic foods tend to taste better.
The flavor profile of fruits and vegetables is directly related to the sugar content that the crop is able to achieve. Crops can be grown in only water or through the use of genetic manipulation, but these crops don’t develop a natural sugar content like organic crops do. This means the overall quality of the organic foods will tend to be better.
4. They store for longer periods of time.
Organic foods develop a structural integrity that is superior to industrially grown foods. The outcome allows for organic products to be stored for longer periods of time without being susceptible to mold and decay.
5. Organically grown crops are naturally drought resistant.
Most artificial fertilizers are based on salt compounds. When there is enough water for crops to absorb this fertilizer, then they can grow to massive heights. When drought occurs, the salt content from the fertilizers builds up and will destroy the crop. The natural minerals in the soil, combined with the natural durability of an organic crop, gives organic farmers a naturally higher level of resistance to drought.
6. It won’t contaminate the ground water.
In some studies, ground water samples have been up to 20% polluted with fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. In the Carolinas in 1997, more than 1 in 4 wells were found to be contaminated because of agriculture pollution. Organic farming makes all of this go away because no poisons are put onto the plants or into the ground.
The Cons of Organic Farming
1. There are lower productivity levels.
Although the foods grown organically may be superior in flavor and in quality to industrially grown foods, they just can’t be grown to the same yield levels. This ultimately means that organic foods cost more than industrial foods so that the farmer can achieve a needed level of revenue.
2. It takes more work to produce a crop.
Organic farming requires manual labor to remove weeds, pests, and other things that could ruin a crop. They have to plow their own fields, cultivate their soil, and look for natural ways to increase yields per acre. The time commitment to grow a full organic crop can be massive and involve daily labor in season from sunrise to sunset.
3. Cross-breeding can happen.
The nature of GMO crops is the same as organic crops. Pollination occurs and this can cause the plants to cross-breed with each other. For organic farmers that are near farms that use GMO crops, this can ruin a crop and there isn’t much they can do to prevent this from happening.
4. There is a certain amount of skill required.
GMO crops are designed so that they’ll grow in virtually any conditions. This means the farmer growing these crops doesn’t have to do much beyond planting the seeds, managing the growth cycle, and then harvesting the crop. For the organic farmer, there aren’t chemical fixes or a natural resistance to pests. They have to know how to change their system of farming each year to adapt to the changing needs of the crop.
Although food production takes more labor and the crop yields are generally less, the quality of the food tends to better with organic farming. By weighing all of the pros and cons of this practice, we can each decide for ourselves if this is an industry to personally support.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.