Understanding the “ins and outs” of the organic industry can be complicated. There is a lot of greenwashing and variables that come into play. My children have asked me why I want to buy organic and natural products and why I started ON! Juniper. The explanation that I give my children is simple yet logical (at least to me). Our bodies – and the environment – are naturally equipped to process or absorb natural ingredients. Understanding how foreign elements like artificial pesticides or synthetic preservatives interact with these same receptors is less clear.
In an effort to decrease these foreign elements within our lives, I’ve chosen to integrate as much organic and natural products within my family’s lifestyle. I also started ON! Juniper to provide this to other people who feel the same way – I can’t be the only one wanting this for my kids?! After all, people wanting to live an organic and more sustainable lifestyle is on the rise, right?!
An interesting 2018 study suggested that organic farming is less sustainable than conventional farming. This study looked at output, or the amount of product cultivated. I have to agree with the authors, they make a good point. Conventional farming can be more economically viable than organic farming. However, their argument only looks at economics. If we are talking about sustainability, we need to talk about the 2 other sustainability pillars: the environment and society.
I have to argue that conventional farming isn’t more sustainable from an environmental perspective – synthetic fertilisers and artificial pesticides that enter our soil and watercourses can lead to long-term impacts to soil quality and productivity. From a social perspective, we also need to consider the societal impacts (e.g.: studies linking lower cancer rates among those eating high organic diets). Some debate the validity of these studies. My thoughts? As I do with my children, I strip the information back to the basics and when I do this, organic farming and organic crops win every time.
So, what exactly is organic farming and how is it different from conventional farming? The Soil Association, the United Kingdom’s organic accrediting agency says, “Organic farming encourages wildlife and cuts the use of pesticides and antibiotics. Strict regulations, known as ‘organic standards’, define what organic farmers can and cannot do – and place a strong emphasis on the protection of wildlife and the environment.”
Organic farming supports healthier ecosystems through strict regulations known in the UK as ‘organic standards’. There are circumstances where these standards may be softened, but for the most part, they explain the approach used within the UK’s organic farming industry. The benefits of organic farming include:
o Soil enriched by growing and rotating a mixture of crops, adding organic matter (e.g.: compost, manure) and using clover to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Artificial chemicals are not allowed.
o Wildlife is used to control pests and disease and the use of pesticides is severely restricted.
o Free-range life for farm animals is guaranteed, ensuring animal welfare.
o Mixed crops and rotating farmland throughout the seasons. This helps to break the cycle of pests and disease and allows the soil to be more fertile.
o Moving animals to fresh pastures and keeping smaller herds and flock sizes help prevent disease and it’s spread. Routine use of drugs, antibiotics, and wormers is banned.
o Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are banned.
These are the fundamentals of organic farming. To me, they align with a more natural lifestyle and support a symbiotic relationship with our environment. Injecting foreign elements into our bodies and our ecosystems is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. They don’t fit and if we force them together, we damage the peg and the hole.
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