Guest Post: 5 Ways Choosing Organic benefits the Environment
Since this month is Australian Organic Awareness Month 2016, we asked wellness expert Kris Abbey to share her thoughts on why choosing organic is best. She had so many reasons that we decided to split her answers to create a two series blog post. This week Kris shares with us how organic benefits the environment now and for future generations:
1. Protect Water Quality
‘When your water chokes you, what will you drink to wash it down?’ – Socrates
Water is the drop of life. A 1% deficiency of water in our body makes us thirsty, a 5% loss causes slight fever, a 10% loss renders us immobile. A 12% loss of water causes death.
Water is also the fundamental source of survival for nearly everything that exists around us. Although water covers 75% of the Earth’s surface, only 3% is fresh water and most of this is frozen, leaving only about 1% to meet the world’s water needs. Water is literally like liquid gold, only much more valuable! It is irresponsible to allow chemicals, sewage or rubbish to contaminate this precious resource. One tablespoon of herbicide can pollute the drinking water of 200,000 people.
Choosing food and products that are chemical-free will lead to the chemicals being used less and, ultimately, less chemicals infiltrating our waterways.
2. Support our Farmers
‘In real terms, food now costs a fraction of what it did 50 years ago. Consumers have little idea of the trauma their ‘cheap food’ is causing rural communities.’ – Scott Kinnear, OFA
Having been brought up on a farm, the plight of farmers is close to my heart. My dad comes from three generations of Australian farmers and still works as a farmer, but unfortunately he will be the last in our family to do so. Since it has become increasingly difficult to make a living as a farmer, none of my brothers or sisters have chosen to stay on the farm.
Our farmers are in a most unequal partnership with Mother Nature, having to deal with so many elements beyond their control. Yet consumers still expect high yields and high quality products without the accompanying price tag. The cost is being borne by our farmers and our environment. The environment can no longer sustain the burden of intense farming, chemical abuse and over-population of livestock.
By supporting organic farmers and being prepared to pay more for food, we are supporting our farming industry as a whole, an industry that has a limited future unless something changes. You are supporting sustainable farming and giving Australia’s farming industry a new lease of life.
3. Nurture Nature
‘The world is not ours, the earth is not ours. It is a treasure we hold in trust for future generations.’ – African proverb
The second thing I noticed when visiting the organic farm was the noise. Not the low hum created by machinery, but the constant chirp and tweet of wildlife. The stillness and quietness of most farms is tranquil, but the buzzing of natural life on an organic farm is surreal.
Humans have a bad habit of taking a habitat and changing it to best suit themselves. We give little regard to the wildlife that coexists with the plant life and before long, the plants and animals are squeezed out, leaving an environment devoid of personality and heritage.
Organic farms work in harmony with nature. Many studies have shown that there are more birds and beneficial insect species on organic farms than there are on chemically farmed land. Research conducted recently by the Soil Association of the UK reported that organic farms have five times more wild plants, including rare and threatened species, than conventional farms. Organic farms also have 150% more of the insects which birds feed off, 300% more butterflies and 40% more birds. You never know how much you will miss something until it’s gone.
4. Promote Biodiversity
‘Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.’ – William Cowper
‘Bios’ is ancient Greek for ‘life’ and biodiversity literally means to have a variety of life forms in one habitat. As a result of Australia’s geographic location, climate and landmass, we are proud to boast one of the most unique and biodiverse landscapes in the world. But this biodiversity is under real threat, with many plant and animal species at the face of extinction.
Each year, most conventional farms rotate one crop (monoculture), or perhaps two, repeating this cycle for decades. Monocultures tend to be more susceptible to pests, making the farmer more reliant on pesticides. Like an addict who has to keep ‘upping’ their dose to get the same ‘fix’, conventional farmers have a chemical dependency. However insects and weeds are becoming genetically resistant to the pesticides and herbicides used to control them. Out of 49 countries, Australia now has the second highest number of herbicide-resistant weeds, with 33. Only the United States are worse off, with 80.
Organic farms promote biodiversity by growing and rotating a large variety of crops and by rearing a selection of livestock. Organic farmers plant indigenous flora to attract native animals and encourage continuing diversity. The natural predators of pests are able to flourish in the absence of artificial pesticides, so pests and disease are generally less of a problem on organic farms.
5. For a Better Taste!
‘For a chef, using the finest, freshest, organic produce, and being involved in a new menu every session, is the most exciting experience.’ – Jamie Oliver, author of The Naked Chef
Taste is the primary factor in deciding which foods we eat. Our passion for food comes from the sensual pleasures it brings and the feelings it provokes. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, followed by the growing of the plant and finally arriving at a taste you can’t beat. I guess that’s why some of the best chefs prefer to use organic produce.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say that tomatoes don’t taste the way they used to. Of course they don’t. Since when has Mother Nature allowed you to grow a tomato all year round? I personally prefer the firm, red, juicy, sweet flesh of a tomato available in the warmer months than the plumped up, floury, tasteless thing that is on offer at any other time.
Do you eat organic food? Why do you think it’s important to choose organic? Share your thoughts with us.
Next week we have 5 more reasons to choose organic…