Many people in this modern, health-aware age have opted to swap many of their items purchased as supermarkets for an organic alternative. Organic farming, put simply, is the growing and cultivating of produce without the use of chemicals/synthetic methods for pesticides or weed control, or fertilization.
Instead, natural substitutes are used – such as manure as a fertilizer – along with annual crop rotation, to assure the products have the highest nutritional values. This protects the soil from erosion.
Many supermarket essentials such as vegetables, fruit, eggs and milk can be farmed organically, and many people are beginning to grown organic produce in their own gardens. But what are the benefits and downfalls of organic farming?
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The use of chemical fertilizers is for the supplying of certain elements that are essential for the growth of plants. However, the usage of synthetic products has been shown to deteriorate and destroy soil, which alters the nutritional content of some crops and increases the risk of disease in the plants.
However, natural fertilizers – such as green manure, bone meal or worm farming – provide a rich soil, reducing the erosion and providing a healthy soil for future generations. The crop life is also extended, and there is an increased quality in the nutritional content of the produce – making them healthier for you, and better tasting!
As stated above, the richer soil provides an increase in the nutritional values of crops. In 2001, the Journal of Complimentary Medicine published an article stating that organic crops had considerably higher levels of the 21 nutrients they tested!
With vitamin C increasing by 27% and iron increasing by 21%, it is proof that organically grown crops are much healthier for you – increasing your immune system and body’s strength.
The chemicals used for conventional farming can also be toxic to humans, and if safety precautions aren’t kept to, they can easily be ingested.
With conventional gardening, the farmer can use highly developed chemicals in order to achieve multiple batches of produce in quick time and any time of the year. However, as these are banned in organic gardening, growers are forced to rotate their crops in accordance with the seasons. In other words, you can only grow your mangoes in summer time.
Despite the methods used in organic farming being safer, due to the strength of the easily available synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, results are almost instantaneous. This means the need for labour and attention is decreased, making it a much simpler form of gardening.
Organic farming requires this higher level of management due to methods discussed such as crop rotation. However, the supplies can also be unavailable to many. For example, a city dweller may struggle to locate green manure and succumb to the local DIY store for easy-to-find and cheap synthetic fertilisers. Overall, if you chose to live the organic way, you’ll be eating none of the chemicals, but find yourself spending more time labouring in the garden and producing fewer crops for your stew!
The arguments for and against organic gardening are there – but the decision is completely yours.
It’s an argument against the taste of your food and the health of your land and yourself, versus the effort, time and cost that counters these positives. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal restrictions and benefits and what you can and can’t afford to do.
Are you an organic gardener? Have some tips for those who want to get started? Or perhaps you have tried organic gardening and found it to be a challenge? Let us know in the comments section below!
Stefan Armitage is currently a radio presenter on his home island of the Isle of Wight. He has a passion for gardening and cooking and writes for Coblands.