‘Organic’ refers to how food is produced. Organic food is produced by farmers whose production systems avoid the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. Organic farming systems utilize biological methods such as crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients, and to control weeds, insects and other pests. All organic foods are required to be certified under an organic certification program. Organic farmers place a greater consideration of the impact of the farming system on the wider environment inclusive of wildlife conservation as well as public health. Organic agricultural practices hold great promise toward remedying the negative effects of global warming. Here’s four examples how: Use of farm-yard manure, green manures, and cover cropping methods keep soils nutrient-rich, improve soil structure, restore organic matter (making for quicker nutrient uptake), maintain and/or increases soil fertility, and increase soil moisture retention all of which enables the farming ecosystem to better self-regulate. The complete exclusion of synthetics in the farming operation (herbicide, pesticide, fertilizer, etc.) eliminates high-maintenance soils and crops, and subsequently lowers levels of CO2 and associated GHGs released into the atmosphere, while simultaneously lowering nitrate leaching rates and removing risks of ground and surface water pollution. With respect to usage of non-renewable energy resources, organic methods of agriculture use far less direct and indirect energy sources (fuel, oil and synthetic chemical applications respectively). Combating resource depletion, organic methods increase the biodiversity of flora and fauna, contribute to integrated pest management efforts (natural pest control), as well as shape aesthetic landscape values.
The term “organic” can only be used on products that are grown and produced without pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. Products that host the USDA Organic Seal are produced under the high standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There is no legal definition of what the term “natural” means. Natural foods can include organic foods, but not all natural foods are organic. Look for products with the USDA Organic seal and you’ll be making the right choice for your health and the environment.