Top 10 Truths About Organic
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Organic food reduces the amount of pesticides in your body
Along with our study, research shows that switching to an organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduces your exposure to toxic pesticides linked to adverse health impacts, from autism to infertility to cancer. Organic farmers grow abundant food without the use of an estimated 17,000 pesticide products allowed in chemical farming. Instead, organic farmers use ecological methods like planting cover crops and rotating crops in fields to build soil health and manage pests and weeds so they don’t need to depend on toxic chemicals in the first place. Research also shows that an organic diet can help protect your health. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who ate the most organic food lowered their overall risk of developing cancer by 25 percent. Another study found fertility benefits for women who ate more organic food.
Organic farming protects people on the frontlines of pesticide exposure
While the pesticide industry spins organic food as elitist, the reality is that the most vocal advocates for a toxic-free food system are those on the frontlines of pesticide exposure: farmers, farmworkers and pesticide applicators who are exposed to toxic pesticides directly; rural communities whose children live and go to school near farms where toxic pesticides are sprayed; and low-income communities in the shadow of chemical manufacturing plants. Farmworkers can be exposed at levels hundreds of times higher than consumers’ exposure to pesticides. Farmers, farmworkers and their families have higher rates of acute poisonings, cancers, birth defects, asthma, infertility, autism and other neurological effects. Organic farming reduces farmer, farmworker and rural community exposure to toxic synthetic pesticides. No one should have to sacrifice their health and their children’s health to grow the food we all eat. An organic food system free of toxic pesticides is a human right.
Organic is non-GMO, antibiotic-free and more
Organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), synthetic fertilizers, irradiation and sewage sludge (treated toilet waste, which is allowed in non-organic farming as a fertilizer). When it comes to dairy and meat, organic producers don’t use antibiotics, growth hormones or arsenic-based drugs, whereas over 450 drugs are allowed in non-organic production.
The organic label is trustworthy
The organic seal is backed by a robust set of criteria governed by federal law under the National Organic Program at the United States Department of Agriculture. All organic farmers are inspected by an independent third-party certifier each year. Organic farming supports a food system that values environmental stewardship, public health and honest labeling.
Organic shoppers are diverse
The latest data shows that the demographics of organic buyers matches the diversity of the American population. Over 80 percent of U.S. households report buying organic at least sometimes, and a growing number of black and Hispanic families are choosing organic. Organic remains the fastest-growing sector of the food industry; its growth far outpaces the overall food market. Millennials are devouring organic at record rates and are expected to purchase even more as they become parents.
Organic farming is a climate solution
Experts agree that a massive transition to organic practices will be a key part of the climate solution. Organic farms use less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions, in large part because they are not dependent on petroleum-based chemicals or synthetic fertilizers, which are extremely energy-intensive to produce. Organic farms also help pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soils (a process known as carbon sequestration), a critical climate change mitigation strategy. Organic farming has also been shown to yield more in times of weather extremes like drought and floods. It also conserves water resources, which means organic farmers are more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Organic farming is good for the birds and bees
Organic farmers foster biodiversity both above ground and in the soil beneath our feet. Organic farms help protect pollinators like bees and butterflies, essential to one in three bites of food we eat. They support up to 50 percent more pollinating species than pesticide-intensive farms and they help other beneficial insects flourish. Below ground, just one teaspoon of compost-rich organic soil can host as many as one billion helpful bacteria from 15,000 species. On the flip side, one teaspoon of soil treated with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers may have as few as 100 helpful bacteria — that’s 10 million times less. Organic farming also protects clean water. While chemical-intensive agriculture leads to poisoned rivers, algae blooms and oceanic dead zones, studies show that organic farming can protect waterways from agricultural runoff and its harmful effects.
Organic farming can feed a growing world population
Science shows that organic farming can produce enough food to feed a growing world population while protecting the natural resources we need to grow food for generations to come. What’s more, research consistently shows that hunger is not a problem of an insufficient supply of food, but results from poverty, lack of democracy and unequal access to land, water and other resources. The United Nations summarizes the latest science by asserting that pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole” in a report that debunks the myth that pesticides are necessary to feed a growing world population. Scientists agree that we need a rapid transition to organic and ecological farming in order to protect the ecosystems we depend on to grow food, now and into the future.
Organic farming is an economic opportunity for farmers and rural America
Data shows that organic farming is more profitable for farmers and provides greater economic stability and well-being. Organic farms also create more jobs than their conventional counterparts. Organic can be an important solution to rural poverty. Research shows that counties with high levels of organic farming and associated organic businesses like processors and retailers are economic hotspots that boost household incomes by over $2,000 and reduce poverty rates by as much as 1.35 percent — even more than major anti-poverty programs.
U.S. farmers need more support to transition to organic
Our government subsidizes chemical-intensive industrial agriculture to the tune of billions of dollars a year, while organic programs and research are woefully underfunded. As one example, less than one percent of federal agricultural research dollars go toward organic or other sustainable farming approaches. As a result, American farmers are losing out. Consumer demand for organic food is growing by double digits each year, but U.S. production is not keeping pace., The gap between U.S. demand and production is increasingly being filled by imports of crops that could be grown in the U.S. We are the largest producer of soybeans in the world, but in 2016, we imported $250 million worth of organic soybeans and produced only $78.5 million worth. In the same year, $410 million worth of organic grain that could have been grown in the U.S. was imported. The U.S. accounts for 44 percent of the global organic consumer market but just five percent of global farmland under organic production. Data shows that more U.S. farmers are interested in transitioning to organic production, but they will need policies and market opportunities to help them do so.