Organic foods are becoming popular as a smarter and more effectual choice for consumers to be healthy. Organic farming has been practiced during the ancient times but it was only in the 21st century when people gradually realized the many benefits that they can get from consuming organic products. Thus, the demand for organic products continues to increase.
On the other hand, some people still do not have knowledge about “organic” foods and products. Well, to answer your curiosity, let us further discuss what organic is, how organic foods are being produced and the reason why we should go organic.
What does “organic” mean?
“Organic” is the term used to describe a product that is locally-grown through the use of organic farming. This farming method aims to nurture the land and cultivate crops by enriching the soil and utilizing organic wastes and other biological materials.
Thus, organic farming is the method of crop and livestock production that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, genetically-modified organisms, growth hormones, antibiotics and other harmful chemicals.
How are organic products grown?
Organic farming utilizes healthy and natural processes to promote a sustainable production of crops and animals. Despite the increasing demand for organic foods, farmers are still able to maintain the fresh, organic quality of their products. They engage in various organic agricultural methods and farming techniques to speed up and uphold the quality of their products
Polyculture is an agricultural method that allows multiple kinds of crops in the same space. This promotes crop diversity which is essential for natural ecosystems. Polyculture reduces the susceptibility of organic products to diseases. According to a study in China, they recorded a dramatic 94% decrease in the incidence of disease planting several varieties of rice in the same field. Also, promotes local biodiversity.
Soil enrichment or management involves all practices and treatments to enhance the performance of the soil, including its fertility. Soil management is very important in organic farming as it relies on soil health as the exclusive source of its pest control and fertilization. Over time, the quality and nutrients of soil deplete. Thus, farmers use bacteria that can be found in animal waste to enhance the soil. Other techniques include soil amendment, soil conservation, and optimal soil health.
In organic farming, they use synthetic pesticides and other chemicals to get rid of weeds, pests, and other organisms. On the other hand, instead of totally eliminating the weed, organic farming is more focused into suppressing the growth of the weeds. They follow non-toxic organic weed control methods.
The most common way is mulching in which they cover the garden soil with a layer of organic matter that inhibits the growth of weeds. Another way is through crowding in which they plant groundcovers and perennial plants so when they grow, they will cover and shade the soil and their leaves will just touch each other, making zero space for weeds. Other techniques include tilling and digging, solarizing, pouring hot water to weeds, and rubbing alcohol on weeds.
Biological Pest Control
Biological pest control is an organic agricultural method that aims to eliminate pests, including insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases through the use of other organisms. It highly depends on natural mechanisms such as predation, parasitism, and herbivory.
Importation is one of the pest control strategies which introduce the pest’s natural enemies to a new locale where they do not interact naturally. The second strategy is augmentation or the release of the natural enemies of the pests in a particular area. Lastly is the conservation of the natural enemies in the environment.
Composting is a very common technique in organic farming, which is being promoted to households in avoiding unnecessary wastes. Composting is the process of decomposing and recycling wastes from fruits, vegetables, animals, foods and natural wastes to convert them into organic fertilizer. Compost is rich in nutrients which can be used as a soil conditioner and fertilizer, natural pesticide and can also be beneficial in preventing soil erosion.
In agriculture, farmers utilize green manure. This refers to dying plants that are uprooted and sown into the soil where crops are being cultivated, so they act as natural fertilizers. Green manure is not just important for the growth of organic crops, but also in maintaining soil quality and fertility.
Why go “organic”?
There are a lot of reasons why you should buy organic products. But primarily, organic products do not use harmful chemicals that may threaten our health. According to a study, inorganic farming uses more than 600 registered active chemicals in their products. An average person consumes 16 pounds of chemical pesticides every year. 90% of these are tested “not safe” by National Academy of Sciences which can lead to certain disorders, especially cancer.
Also, when you go organic, you can benefit more nutrients. Organic products are rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients which are all essential for our optimum health. Based on a research, an organic food contains 21.1% more iron, 27% more vitamin C, 29.3% more magnesium, and 13.6% more phosphorus compared to inorganic counterparts. Plus, organic foods taste and smell better.
How to buy real “organic” products?
Due to the increasing demand for organic products, many retail stores and shops are requesting more supply from agricultural industries. On the other hand, many products now are not real “organic”. Thus, it is important that consumers should be cautious in buying organic products.
The first thing to do is to read the label. Organic products have organic seal or wording on the packaging that says “100% Organic”. However, some products are “greenwashed” or are labeled with organic seals just to look like “organic”. So, the next step is to check the code. If the products are real organic, its PLU code will start with 9 and is usually followed by four more numbers. If the product is inorganic, it will start with 4. But the safest way is to support and buy the products of local farmers that practice organic agricultural methods.