What is Organic?

You are probably familiar with the term “organic.” It is everywhere! You can see proud claims of “organic” plastered on fruits and vegetables, advertisements, and even on packaged food like Oreos! But why does the term “organic” seem to be everywhere? Ten years ago, the term was not thrown around nearly as much as it is today. Organic means that the produce was not grown using chemical fertilizers or herbicides, nor was it sprayed with insecticides. Organic is a way of growing food that is gentler to the earth and healthier for us.

Lately, people have become a lot more aware about what they are putting into their bodies. The chemicals used to produce conventionally grown food are designed to kill bugs and weeds. The public began to realize that some insecticides and pesticides can cause cancer and are otherwise harmful to your body. As a response to this, along with a desire to be more natural, the organic movement was started.

The methods used by some farms that are not organic are very destructive to the environment. Pesticides that are applied to plants can wash off into streams with devastating effects. One pesticide, Atrazine, can turn male frogs into female frogs. Chemical fertilizer that runs off into lakes can be responsible for algae blooms which kill fish. Most insecticides are toxic to bees, and one-third of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination.

Growing organically is a lot like the gardening you can do in your own backyard. Some of us may use chemical fertilizers, but most of us do not spray chemicals on our vegetables! We work hard to weed and take care of our plants the natural way.

I live next door to an organic herb farm and I work there in the summer. It is inspiring to see the creative and natural ways they use to make their plants healthier without any detrimental effects to the environment. They use compost, cover crops, natural minerals, and other natural strategies that conventional farmers would not think to use. I also frequent an organic strawberry farm, and it is a delight because I can eat strawberries right from the plant without having to worry about pesticides.

The next time you see something claim to be organic, take a moment to consider the extra work it took to make that product more environmentally friendly. Being organic does not necessarily change something’s nutritional content, but nevertheless, it can be healthier for both you and the planet.

Written by: Mobstir Sarah 

Jamie W. for the images

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