Published in the Spring 2006 issue • Stir it Up
The Dirt on Corporate Organics
Continued from page 1
Organic foods have not been proven to be healthier than conventional foods. Most studies claim there’s no nutritional difference between an organic tomato and a conventionally grown tomato, for instance. But it has been scientifically proven that organic farming is much more environmentally sustainable than non-organic farming. In fact, that’s one of the main advantages of organic farming. Agriculture and nature conservation are closely linked, and organic agriculture boosts biodiversity (the number of species and plants found in an environment). There are more birds on organic farms, for example, and a greater number of bird species as well.
Organic farms achieve this in part through the use of mixed farming (planting a variety of crops together) rather than monoculture (planting the same crop in the same field year after year). The mass production of organics would likely trigger a switch to monoculture, which makes crops much more susceptible to disease and depletes the soil of nutrients—environmental friendliness be damned! That’s not to mention the pollution created when transporting these foods all the way across the continent from California or British Columbia. As researchers at London’s City University have found, buying locally grown, non-organic food is greener than buying organic food that needs to be shipped from miles away. According to the proximity principle, it’s best to buy food that’s been produced within 20 kilometres of where you live.
Luckily, there are ways to find organic foods that have been locally grown. A good deal of organic food is still produced the old-fashioned way. Many cities now have organic markets where you can buy produce straight from the local farmers who grew it. Alternately, services such as Le Jardin des Anges in Montreal and Green Earth Organics in Toronto and Vancouver will deliver fresh organic fruits and veggies right to your door. This may be a pricier alternative, but if you can afford it, it’s a good way to guarantee you’re getting what you pay for.
So don’t let big business get you down. With a little information and determination, it’s possible to eat in an ethical, earth-conscious way.