Environmental Damage of Farming: Why Organic is Our Only Safe Future

Throughout history, mankind has made use of the right balance between growing the food that we need and allowing nature to reinforce the health of the land. The farmers of the past realised that to maintain a viable system that produced crops, they were required to follow a formula for success that allowed them to return to the land just as much as they took. This is not the case for industrial farmers of today. Somewhere along the line, the concept of profit has overruled the common sense of nature, and the foods that are being produced are not only lower in nutrients but the production is causing massive environmental damage. The uptick of organic farming has started out slowly, but is quickly gaining speed as some farmers are now working with the general public to produce what may be our only future for safe food and as part of the protection of the planet.

Conversation with larger farming organisations on the topic of environmental damage, typically results in hearing only one thing: ‘denial’. While some may abide by the crop rotation rules in support of natural food production; that action is usually where it stops. The former understanding of replacing the soil nutrients and making use of animals for grazing and fertilization have been replaced in the large farming communities and companies with manure and chemical fertilizers. The overuse of these have caused a major imbalance in the water systems as they run off into lakes and streams and eventually the oceans. Over fertilization is now creating the development of algae blooms known as ‘red tide’ in many of our coastal areas. These blooms contain toxins as well as deplete the oxygen that kills fills and animals.

Another major problem that standard farming has caused is the consistent use of pesticides. Products such as ‘Roundup’, by Monsanto, are used on an industrial scale and farmers refuse to accept the fact that the ingredients have been listed as ‘potential carcinogens’ by scientists and the World Health Organisation. The additional, and sometimes confusing piece to this conversation, is also the use of GMO seeds.  Researchers that originally indicated the efficacy of GMO are now coming forward to admit that the scientific studies were backed by Monsanto. Countries around the world are rejecting both Roundup and GMO, neither of which have resulted in the success that they promised, and instead are poisoning both humans and the natural food chain.

These are just a few of the environmental damage problems that industrial and standard farming is causing. It is a deeply complex situation that has spiraled almost out of control, as they have placed profits and the bottom line above the safety of both humans and nature.

The topic of animal manure brings into play an entire new area of discussion. The increased use of growth hormones and antibiotics are contained in the manure that then runs into and contaminates waterways, animals and plants. This has upset entire ecosystems, damaging soil quality and water. The added heavy metals and nutrients that are in the manure are then used to reapply to the soil, which contributes copper, arsenic, zinc, cadmium and lead into the food system. Since salt is also a manure component, this adds to the reduction of soil quality and can cause erosion. Farmers argue that these elements are naturally needed to support plant growth, but they ignore the fact that the intense quantities that they are applying actually contributes to the reduction of the fertility of the soil and causes damage that is difficult to turn back.

Another facet of environmental dangers from the factory, industrial and larger farming areas is the fact that they typically do not participate in the use of any equipment that is eco-friendly. Instead they use machinery that emits harmful particles and gases that are known to contribute to health issues and global warming. Hydrogen sulfide and methane are the two most over produced gases. Mismanagement of manure practices and irresponsible feeding allows excess methane gas to be produced. The additional overuse and lack of responsible use of water, places another burden on the environment, as they deplete the water before it has the natural ability to replenish.

This doom-and-gloom picture has been building up for a number of decades, but it has not been going unnoticed. Natural health organizations across the country have been bringing this story to the forefront of the average consumer. The OCA (Organic Consumer Organization) started out as a grassroots non-profit organization and has grown to become a national leader in the crusade to educate the public, make a stand in their lobbying efforts in the government, and work with local farming communities to encourage the production of organically grown foods as well as comply with actions that support eco-friendly farming. Their efforts have assisted in bringing awareness to consumers, while encouraging phasing-out of the most dangerous farming practices.

In the last number of years, the outcry and demand from the general public for organically grown and sustainably/responsibly produced foods has been so great that it is catapulted the success of the organic industry into new heights. What began as the local farmer supplying organic produce at the farmer’s market has grown to a point where there are now grocery store chains that specialize in organic foods and products that support ecologically minded production. Even the largest retail grocery stores are now carrying organic products.

According to OCA, “Forty percent of Americans said organic food will be a bigger part of their diet within one year and 63 percent buy organic foods and beverages at least sometimes, according to a Roper survey released Monday.” “The trend for organics is growth, more and more people are choosing organic produce and food products and especially in the last ten years it’s been growing at healthy rates,” Miles McEvoy, organic program manager for the state of Washington. “In the last four years in Washington we’ve gone from 290 farmers to 520 because of the increased demand.”

Organic food production is not a trend, it is now a movement that is sweeping across the country. As consumers become more educated on the damages that industrial farming is creating to their food and the environment, the demand for organic and responsibly grown food is increasing. The cost barrier that once kept people from purchasing organic is slowly making a dynamic shift as people realize the ultimate price that they are paying for unhealthy and potentially toxic food as well as the damage to eco-systems.

The topic of ‘organic’ is now part of the general population conversation as they realize that the only potential method to save both the environment and the health of themselves and their families is in raising their voices and forcing organic to become the norm, instead of the exception. It will take a continual push by the consumers to make the kind of farming philosophy changes that are needed, but they are the ultimate requirement to transition food production so that it is both safe and good for the environment. Organic, is indeed our future.