The Health and Economic Benefits of Organic Farming

by Michael Anthony

There are a lot of catch-phrases being thrown around lately within the “green” community.  Even Monsanto, the world’s leading food conglomerate with a vast history of maltreatment of people and the environment is attempting to co-pt all things “green” by painting a picture of themselves as the great stewards of agriculture.  So what makes organic farming and food production the real deal, and why is it the sensible choice for both your health and your bank account?

First, we need to understand what real organic agriculture is.  According to The Agriculture Guide, “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity.”  In layman’s terms organic agriculture aims not only to work with the environment, but enhance it.  Whereas traditional industrial agriculture uses chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and herbicides; organic agriculture gives back to the land by employing natural pest control, crop rotation, use of manure and natural waste.  This system of renewal is a long-term plan which aims to continually strengthen and reinforce the environment, rather than focus on the short-term goals of artificially inflating food production at the cost of quality and the environment.

The first and most obvious result of employing nature in the service of nature is a product that has retained its key components.  Our bodies thrive on vitamins and essential minerals and micro-nutrients.  All of this must be in balance if our systems are to function optimally.  Our systems are put under massive stress when loaded with synthetic chemicals, hormones in meat production, antibiotics, and worse.  Organic farming results in produce that is better for us, tastes better, and has been shown in study after study to support the immune system, leading to reduced incidents of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and auto-immune disorders.  Countless people have reported feeling lighter, more energetic, and more mentally alert after switching to organic produce.  The numbers don’t lie — a U.S. ACNielson survey shows the following:

  • 32% believe organic is healthier
  • 11% cite better quality
  • 3% consider no GMO as a benefit
  • 3% eat organic foods to combat allergies

This trend has led to incredible overall growth of the organic food and beverage industry.  According to The Organic Trade Association U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to an estimated $20 billion in 2007, and are projected to reach nearly $23 billion in 2008.  Organic food sales are anticipated to increase an average of 18 percent each year from 2007 to 2010.  Source: 2007 OTA Manufacturer Survey.  Organic non-food sales grew 26% in 2006.  Clearly consumers are seeing the value of natural foods being put on their plate.

Some people have been put off, however, by the high prices of organic foods and beverages.  And, yet, due to the demand, costs should come down as the supply is strengthened.  In the meantime, one must factor in the cost savings associated with fewer sick days, a decrease in the need for pharmaceuticals, and increased productivity.  For farmers, the investment in organic agriculture pays off with a savings of soil erosion by up to 50% and by increasing crop yields up to five-fold within 5 years.  Additionally, the plants become stronger with each generation as organic farming encourages natural evolution which continually strengthens the species produced.

A word of warning:  The term “organic” has in fact been misused by unscrupulous companies looking to cash in on the consumer demand for healthy products.  One must do their research when buying from chain stores.  We find that the best way to guarantee that you are buying the purest food and produce is to buy at the local level.   Organic Properties of Costa Rica is dedicated to true organic farming; we invite people to meet with Efrain Sanchez, our local expert and see the operation on the ground.  For those who have not yet moved to Costa Rica, we suggest the fantastic Web site Local Harvest; completely searchable by zip code to find your nearest local grower.  Stay local and strengthen the community where you live.

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