Is Organic Food Better?

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Patricia Williams
ENG 226 DL3
Is Organic Food Better?
There have been many different food trends over the years. We have been told about eating low fat diets, zero carb diets, and now organic. If you are like many others, there is a good chance that you have heard that organic foods are healthier to eat. They contain more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and taste than engineered produce do. Organic foods are also free from insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers and a whole host of other toxic artificial additives, flavorings, colorings and preservatives. Organic foods are better tasting, more nutritional, better on the environment, and ethically more appealing. What does it mean for food to be organic? When food is grown naturally, it is considered organic; that is, without the use of synthetic pesticides, irradiation, artificial fertilizers, or biotechnology. The growing and tending process is what really defines a food as organic. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the soil is thoroughly tested and must be free of chemical exposure for at least three years. The food farmers produce must be free of any chemical or genetically engineered ingredients and must not have been raised or produced with any drugs or hormones. Organic certification procedures require that the food producer and/or distributor keep detailed written records (of where, when, and how the food was produced) and keep the organic food segregated from non-organic food if working with both foods (United).

The term “organic food” is not a new concept. It has been around for as long as agriculture has been on the earth. Food was organic until someone decided to change the way that food was produced. Within the last century a large supply of synthetic chemicals were introduced into the food supply. Farmers, in fear of insects, started using pesticides to kill the insects. They also used synthetic fertilizers (especially nitrogen) to make plants grow fast. Nitrogen-driven growth produces weak, watery, and overly leafy plants which are more vulnerable to insects causing farmers to use more pesticides. Pesticide spraying has contributed to serious health problems for workers on these farms. In the article “The Truth About Organic Foods,” Jessica DeCostole writes “Some studies have linked pesticides in our food to everything from headaches to cancer to birth defects — but many experts maintain that the levels in conventional food are safe for most healthy adults.” Most of the pesticides and fertilizers run off, polluting streams, rivers, oceans, fisheries, and drinking water. Organic farming does not use as harsh of chemicals as conventional farming. This makes it better on the soil and the water supply.

People who oppose organic farming argue that organic farming requires twice as much land to grow the same amount of food as conventional farming does. Organic farming may require more land, but it is not double as what conventional farming uses. While organic farming usually requires more land, it is not double. Since the soil is not being depleted, organic farmers can use their land for longer periods of time. Organic farming can also produce higher yields and profits when it is done correctly. According to Jane Goodall in Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, the top 25 percent of sustainable farmers who farm without the use of chemicals have higher yields than industrial farmers in the United States (161).

There's no question that organic foods are frequently more expensive than comparable conventional foods. Some of this can be attributed to the reduced production costs that can be achieved through commercial fertilizer and chemicals. Some of the price difference can also be attributed to the economies of scale enjoyed by the large multinational food companies, but these food systems are not on a level playing field. U.S. farm policy infuses billions of dollars into the conventional food...
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