Everyone loves to talk about organic food–which, unlike the “natural” food sham, actually requires certification. But not everyone can actually afford organic food. It’s often nearly 50% higher than what you’d pay for non-organic produce.
Ready for the good news?
It might be worth it! (To the planet at least.)
A new study has found that despite organic food’s high prices, there may be some major benefits that justify the sticker shock. In fact, when you decide to eat foods that are produced organically as opposed to conventionally, you’re not just creating jobs and making “meaningful connections between farmers and consumers,” you’re also encouraging biodiversity, a healthier eco system, and paving the way for the world to be fed.
At first, this might sound unlikely, given that the crop yields of organic agriculture are typically 10-20% lower than conventional. That’s because conventional growers can use synthetic fertilizers, most of which aren’t allowed in organic food production. “When farmers add fertilizers, those nutrients are immediately available to the plant, and the plants can grow faster,”[John]Reganold, [professor of soil science and agroecology at Washington State University]explains. Organic crops, on the other hand, are fertilized by organic matter like compost or animal manure, which takes more time to decompose and release its nutrients. (This slow, steady approach is called building the soil.)
Where can organic crops do the most good? In places (and times) of drought. That’s because organic farming builds up the soil so that it needs less water. And organic farming uses less energy, too. Can you put a price on these benefits? Maybe not a fixed one, but experts are happy to point out what you’re shelling out at the farmer’s market is worth much more to society than you might think.