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The importance of organically grown food


By David Nuttle

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) planners have indicated that organic production of foods will be the only means possible to provide enough food for growing world populations in future years. Factory farming, or non-organic food production, requires a high and sustained level of fossil energy inputs to provide chemical fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and mechanization. All of these inputs are increasing in cost, and rapidly becoming less available, worldwide. The U.S., with about 04 percent of the world's population, consumes over 70 percent of all fossil fuels. If global populations primarily used the U.S. means of factory farming to produce their foods, these fossil fuels would only last another 15 to 20 years.

Thomas L. Friedman, in his recent book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" explains how and why population growth, resource depletion, climate change, global warming, conflict, increasing competition, and other factors will force American farmers to find alternatives to factory farming. Studies by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have established that non-organic food production, or so-called factory farming, has been the cause of most soil erosion, water and air pollution, and loss of biological resources. Several university studies also documented the fact that use of chemical fertilizers actually decrease soil microbial activity and reduce the total nutrients available, so foods chemically produced are less healthful. Factory farming has become a means to produce large quantities of less healthful foods using techniques requiring large amounts of energy, while acting to damage the enviroment. Our food producers have favored such non-organic food production means as a way to increase immediate profits, with little or no regard concerning the lack of sustainability for such methods. Organically grown foods help avoid all these problems.

Foods produced by factory farming (non-organic) methods typically contain antibiotics, hormones, steroids, pesticides, assorted chemicals, heavy metals, and other elements proven to be harmful to human health. The National Cancer Institute has determined, for example, that both growers and consumers of non-organic foods have higher rates of cancer. Similar results have been found for other diseases having higher rates when consumers mostlly had a diet of non-organic foods. The general public is aware of these facts, and consumption of organic foods is increasing at a rate of 20 to 24 percent annually, with current organic food production being about $10 billion, for the U.S. alone. Research studies at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Oregon, determined that organically produced foods were generally 58 percent higher in the polyphenolics needed to sustain a high level of immune response. Time and again, and in many categories, organic foods have proven to be far more healthful, because they contain more of the nutrients required for good health.

Factory farms, giant food companies, and big "Pharma" are spending millions of dollars in "political payola" (large, sustained political contributions), in oder to persuade our Congressmen to pass, support, and/or sustain legislation that favors production of non-organic foods that tend to be more profitable. In addition, there is an effort to divert more of our good cropland for production of crops focused on energy, drugs, and GM (genetically modified) seeds. The result has been food riots in many parts of the world due to food shortages, and rising food costs. As a counter to this curruption of our food system, there is an ever increasing number of local cooperatives being organized to promote buying local, fresh, and organic foods. The factory farms therefore have started trying to damage this organic food production movement, by using "political payola" to seek legislation to harm the small farms producing most of this organic food. Thus, support for organically grown foods has become a way for the average citizen to help fight the type greed and corruption acting to destroy our democracy.

Those who support non-organic food production have argued that organic foods are too expensive. Yet, organic foods have a much lower cost when energy and environmental factors are considered. By using crop rotation, intercropping, composting, green manures, manure "teas," biochar, legume crops, rainwater harvesting/ drip-irrigation, natural pest control, and other organic production techniques, the cost of organic foods will often be less than for non-organic foods. In areas where farmers typically use slash-and-burn farming methods, a conversion to slash-and-biochar production means will greatly increase organic yields while dramatically lowering the cost of organic foods. With nearly 900 million people, worldwide, living on the brink of starvation (per United Nations data), organic food production becomes the only real hope for growing enough food for these people. The non-organic means of food production have proven to be an ever growing failure as indicated by the evidence presented herein. Thus, it can be concluded that organically grown foods are the only real hope we have of providing enough healthful foods for all people on our planet.

For hundreds of years, man only produced and consumed organic foods. In the last 50 years, non-organic food production methods created the so-called "body burden" resulting from production of meats using antibiotics, hormones, steroids, assorted chemicals, and heavy metals -and other foods containing pesticides, various chemicals, and GM (genetically modified) plants materials or seeds. In a recent study by Emory University, children having a diet of non-organic foods had six times more organophosphate pesticides than children consuming mostly organic foods. The children having this "body burden," created by eating non-organic foods, clearly had hyperactivity issues and lower levels of performance in school. As a result of this study, interest in organic school lunch programs is growing very rapidly. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also found evidence of similar health damage from such "body burden," and they determined that Native American populations having a more traditional organic diets had far lower rates of diabetes, and other major diseases.

The importance of organically grown foods is based on the fact that such foods helped man survive and thrive for generations, and organic foods will once again assure the health and well-being of future generations. Foods produced by non-organic means have been found to be less than healthful, while creating a "body burden" that few people long afford if they desire good health and long life. Organic foods have given us our past, and organic foods will give us our future.

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