Add this to your list of reasons to swap over to organic foods – A culinary solution to the climate change crisis
Organic foods can save us from many things, so we’ve heard. They can save us from harmful chemicals, unfair farming practices, GMOs, allergens and most importantly bad health. But can organic foods actually save the world from Climate Change? Yes, they can! Here’s how.
The argument recently came to light after a Stanford study was released, claiming there was no real difference between organic foods and conventional supermarket foods. It riled up passionate statements of discontent from organic supporters including consumers and farmers alike. While the effects of traditional agriculture for mass produce may not be seen immediately, there is now clear evidence that the food industry has left a trail of destruction in its wake. Rise of new diseases, antibiotic resistance and deforestation are just some of the consequences. Organic food bashers often focusonthesurfaceissuesofappearance,tasteandcost, claiming that it’s becoming nothing but a money making scheme. But upon closer look, the actual practices and philosophy behind organic foods is what people actually believe in. And in this case, it’s precisely what the world needs to recover from this awful mess we have created.
The common notion of high cost attached to organic farming is now proven wrong. Organic farming can actually help farmers to save on resources and produce better crops. The end result is thus better for the farmer, better for the consumer and most importantly, more gentle on the natural environment. Here’s how.
ORGANIC FARMING REQUIRES LESS PESTICIDES
One of the biggest advantages that organic foods have over conventional foods is that it’s grown with minimum use of pesticides, sometimes none at all. Pesticides used in mass agricultural practices are heavily laden with chemicals which can make both the animals and farm workers very sick, and equally harmful for the end consumer, if traces of pesticide remain on the fruit and vegetables which they buy. With organic farming, chemical pesticides can be eliminated altogether and in some countries they use ladybugs as natural pest eaters. If we can reduce the amount of chemicals released into the environment by spraying pesticides on crops, this will drastically reduce the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming.
ORGANIC FARMING REQUIRES LESS WATER
Organic foods go far beyond just pesticide use. It’s about the whole philosophy behind the practice. Organic farming is about staying as natural as possible and have minimum impact on the earth. This is why the methods involved in organic farming require less water. Crops are kept in shaded areas where possible to avoid sun damage and as a result the soil remains moist and less water is needed to irrigate crops. Studies have shown that agriculture is the industry which uses the most water globally, so by saving up to 40% of water, organic farming can help preserve our most precious natural resource and counter the effects of climate change.
LESS WASTE, LESS POLLUTION
By avoiding petroleum-based fertilizers and growth enhancing chemicals, organic farmers can also avoid excessive pollution runoff. In conventional farming these chemical residues can seep into the ground and contribute to environmental degradation. The argument used by most farmers is that chemical enhancement is necessary to produce the required yields for profitable business growth, but in many cases, organic farmers have countered this argument, saying that organic farming gives no less yield than conventional farming.
DEFORESTATION & CLIMATE CHANGE
Another factor to consider is that our lust for meat is resulting in deforestation at frightening rates. A diet that is rich in organic fruits and vegetables surely contains less meat and this is a major plus for fighting climate change. As consumers, we need to be aware that our meat choices have a direct impact on the world’s forests. Meat production, particularly beef, requires large areas of land for animal grazing, and this has been a major reason behind deforestation in some of the world’s most vast and beautiful landscapes. So in short, making the conscious choice to eat more organic means less meat consumption. If we all practice this, forests would be left to flourish, more CO2 would be absorbed, and the earth may just be relieved from the harsh impacts of climate change.
AN INSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE
We spoke to Becky Balderstone, the founder of Ripe, an organic market in the UAE, to gain some insight into how customers respond to organic foods. Balderstone testified to the fact that most of her customers are actively looking for organic and locally grown produce that is both fresh and tasty. Her customer base proves that not only is there a demand for organic foods, but it is steadily growing.
“Over the period of four years since Ripe’s launch we are proud to have a dedicated consumer base. Our Ripe Farm Shop has daily regulars and still today we have new customers that come in to the store having heard about us through the Ripe Markets. Our growing Ripe Markets and Ripe Pop-Ups across Dubai and Abu Dhabi confirms that our consumer base is growing locally and internationally,” said Balderstone.
“Now that people are learning more about the health benefits of eating fresh organic produce, the demand is increasing, especially among families with young children. Feeding the next generation food that’s free from preservatives and pesticides helps their health and development from the very beginning.”
When asked how she would respond to organic food skeptics, Balderstone stated: “Organic is all about food in its purest form – fresh fruit and vegetables grown naturally without chemicals, without pesticides or any additives. Ripe has worked a lot to educate people about organic fresh produce and change the way people think about their eating. Many people believe it’s just a marketing tool, but when you use organic produce, you can taste the difference. People also think that organic automatically means more expensive – another misconception is that we’re working to change. By supporting local and buying local where possible, it reduces air miles which most definitely contributes to a healthier climate!”