Is Organically Grown Food Better for the Environment?

Most consumers, whether they purchase organic food or not, probably believe the claim that organic farming is better for the environment because it will lead to a more sustainable planet. However, there are those who argue that it is no better and even that, long-term, it is worse. Food scientist Joe Regenstein, commenting on some pro-organic methods, shows us how complex the matter is. explains the goals of  organic farming this way: “Organic farmers are required to adhere to certain soil and water conservation methods….Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.”


Organic farmers who grow produce don’t use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds. They apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants. They use beneficial insects and birds or traps for pest and disease control. They control weeds by  rotating crops, tilling, hand-weeding, or using mulch to manage weeds. These are more labor-intensive, therefore more expensive, methods of farming. Conventional farmers, as we all know, use synthetic chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and  herbicides. In response, Regenstein points out the connection between raw manure as fertilizer and E.coli contamination. Furthermore, Regenstein says, “Organic farmers use only a very limited number of natural pesticides. The result is that we’re seeing problems with excess sulfur soil mined sulfur (a natural pesticide) in the soil.”  


According to, “Conventional farming is concerned with the crop, a short-term focus; and organic farming is concerned with the soil, a long-term focus. Conventional farming methods arguably leach the nutrients from the soil, reducing the hardiness of crops over time.” Food scientist Joe Regenstein calls this statement “a gross oversimplification.” He points out that most farmers care about their soil and that the organic/natural movement is  helping to test some new ideas that conventional farmers can adapt. 


Here’s another USDA comment: “There is evidence that some fruits and vegetables today contain lower levels of some vitamins, minerals and other elements important to human health than they did 50 years ago. Have farm soils become "depleted" of essential nutrients over the years, and, if so, 1) are they to blame for differences in food values and, 2) does organic farming address these concerns?” More questions with no answers.




USDA-FDAcom  “Organic Foods” “Information About Organic Food, including History, Advantages and Disadvantages”


Joe Regenstein, Ph.D. Cornell University, Dept. of Food Science


USDA “Should I Purchase Organic Food?”


Related FAQs:

What Is Organic Food?


What Do the Various Organic Labels Mean? 


What Important Contributions Has the Organic Movement Made? 


Which Are Safer: Organic or Conventional Food Products?

Is Organic Food More Nutritious Than Conventional Food?


Does Organic Food Taste Better than Conventional Food?


Are Organic Methods More Humane to Animals?


Does Conventional Food Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Organic?

This is indeed true and lots of the organic farming is not something that we can sustain over a long period of time and it won't help improving the quality of our food. One of my friends who works for a home pest control company explained me one day a lot about how insecticides are being used at the moment and it's not the safe or the smart way.


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