Increased awareness of the dangers of growing food with synthetic material has led to an increase in the amount of organic farms. The Organic Farming Research Foundation estimates that growing demand for organic produce will push the number of operating certified farms to at least 42,000. This will more than double the current number of organic farms, which was estimated at 14,500 in September 2011.
In order for a farm to be considered organic, it must not use any manufactured fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, and genetic modifications, along with other regulations. This way of farming is considered by some to be more environmentally conscious than intensive farming, which is heavily reliant on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Plus, advocates argue that organic farms produce more nutrient rich and better tasting food.
This interest in organic and sustainable farming has also given rise to systems like integrated farming, that focus on efficient practices that link all aspects of a farm. Using this system, all the different parts of the farm become one system that works together, adding to the sustainability and reducing the farm’s waste.
The true effect of conventional farming’s use of pesticides and synthetic materials is yet to be determined. But studies have shown that pesticides can affect a human’s nervous system and fertility and increase cancer risk. Genetically modified foods also present known and unknown risks to the ecosystem they are introduced into. These GMO foods have been shown to negatively affect natural wildlife, and even have the power to cross-pollinate with natural food, spreading the unnatural mutations to unintended crops.
Synthetic farming has negative effects on the environment as well. Pesticide runoff can cause ecological “dead zones” and throw entire eco systems off balance. Organic farms operate as healthy natural environments with none of this risk. Also, the USDA reports that organic farming can reduce harmful nitrogen drainage into groundwater.
The easiest way to support more sustainable, healthy farming choices is by making the vote with your pocket book and buying organic produce for your balanced diet. Even better, head down to a local farmer’s market or local farm and put your money back into your community.
- “Organic Production/Organic Food: Information Access Tools”, United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library
- “Organic Farming Gains Momentum with New OFRF Report and Growing Congressional Support”, Organic Farming Research Foundation
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