Conventional Vs Organic Growing
Conventional vs. Organic Growing
There are a number of reasons why organic gardening is better than conventional or commercial growing. Some of the reasons are more obvious than others. As small scale backyard gardeners, there is a tendency to focus just on the plants and practices in our own yards and on our own tables. However, conventional vs. organic growing is a hot topic and has more global ramifications.
What Do the Terms Even Mean?
For the purpose of this article, conventional gardening and farming refers to growing practices that do not take the health of the soil, the plant, or the person into account. Organic is a touchy word in The States that has been regulated by the USDA to mean certain things, and the word can only be used if a garden or farm is certified. However, it is the easiest term to use in a short article when talking about gardening in a sustainable, chemical free and earth friendly way. So that is the word that will be used.
Conventional farming is about bigger, better, faster, and on a large scale. Easy solutions to common food growing issues are used no matter the consequence. Both plants and animals are treated with various chemicals without thought given to the soil, the water, or the nearby humans and animals who may be harmed by these chemicals.
Organic gardening focuses first on the soil, and building the soil through the use of compost, leaves, grass, or manure. This provides the soil with beneficial nutrients and organisms that will ultimately help the plants, and that do not leach out of the soil in a dangerous way.
So, What is the Difference?
There is skepticism about organic food, and why it makes a difference to support this type of farming. Conventional food is cheaper, more conveniently packaged for quick cooking, and looks better than organic food.
Many of these articles are true. However, there are hidden costs of conventional food that no one ever considers.
- Conventional farming is very reliant upon fossil fuels. Farming hundreds of acres, then shipping those crops to manufacturers and stores create “food miles“. Sometimes an apple at the local grocer has travelled hundreds of miles to get there.
- Conventional farming uses monoculture. What this means is that they often plant the same crop over and over in the same place. This leads to more insect infestation and disease, and depletes the soil of nutrients which leads to more fertilizer use. It becomes an endless cycle that also very often leads to massive topsoil erosion.
- Conventional farming releases pesticides and harmful chemicals into the environment. This cannot be undone. These chemicals generally do not stay in the soil, and have to go somewhere. Very often ending up in the water supply, and into the air that we breathe.
- Food grown conventionally is bred to be tasteless. It needs to keep for a long time as it needs to get to the store in pristine condition. Vegetables are treated to slow rotting, and sprouting.
Organic food is generally produced in a way that takes the entire ecosystem into account. Gardeners understand that nature will take care of most of it’s own problems, and that adding poisonous chemicals is counter intuitive.
- Organic food tastes more like what it is supposed to. When a carrot is pulled from the garden, and bitten into, it tastes like a carrot.
- Organic food is generally sold locally. There are not preservatives that will help the food to keep, so it needs to be shipped only to local markets. That is why buying local is another slogan in the organic world.
- Organic gardening adds to the soil. Instead of stripping away the precious topsoil that is available, the organic gardening is continually being fed with nutrients and composts that occur naturally. It is the ultimate recycling project.
- Organic gardening is no longer as expensive in comparison. As fossil fuel prices rise, conventionally grown food prices are starting to rise, and are not that much less expensive than organic food.
Choosing organic and local.
Conventional gardening cannot continue indefinitely. The practices used are inefficient, lack diversity, and will be compromised as fossil fuel availability becomes more scarce.
It is unclear when and if large scale farmers will begin to get this message. The bottom line for the consumer is that money does talk, and where and how you spend your few dollars does make a difference. Organics are becoming more mainstream as the demand for them increases. If you are unable to grow your own food, spend your food dollars at a local market, on products that have been produced with the earth in mind.
Believing in organics should not be an isolated activity. Share it with your community, your politician, and anyone else who will listen. When people really begin to understand, they may also decide that conventionally grown food is not the right choice.
I agree that conventional gardening cannot continue indefinitely. The more people who are able to cure and or manage health problems by simply going organic is a gateway to opening society’s eyes as to how conventional methods actually cost them their health and more money in the long run! I really think we’ll see some major changes in the generations to come.
- Tony Says:
Great post I agree conventional gardening is slowly on the fall due to overhead costs and time constraints.
People need to be educated as to what the difference is between a healthy produce and what’s right for your families health its important in today’s society.
An organic garden will provide nutrition to your plants in a friendly way and put a bountiful harvest of fruit, vegetables and flowers on your table witch matters most.
I agree in spreading the word to all people who are looking for a better way to preserve the planet as well their health.
Fantastic post keep up the great work.