The word “organic” makes me wince, like how the word “moist” makes most people cringe. It seems to extend from organ, another word you never want to use in association with the stuff you eat. As you probably guessed by now, I wasn’t a big believer in organic food. I wrote it off as one of the many fads made popular by health nuts and the internet.
But there was a small voice in the back of my head telling me, “you don’t know anything about organic foods or farming to make that judgment”. So I decided to put the matter to rest – vast amount of information was at my disposal in the form of Rajiv Gupta, whose degree in Agriculture was just an adornment to his 16 years of experience in the field.
Without further ado, I present to you the findings of a former food-bigot (me, of course).
Myth #1 Organic farming is totally and completely devoid of chemicals
Shocker, right? Turns out, the difference between organic and inorganic farming is decided by the government. Every country’s government extends organic certification to farms that use chemicals that are approved by them. Which means you can spray fifty different pesticides in a month and still label it organic, as long as those fifty have the Okay stamp from the government.
Myth #2 Organic farming is better for the environment
Status: True. For now.
Say I give you a slice of chocolate cake and a leaf of lettuce. I am guessing you will take the warm, sweet cake instead of the lettuce. Would you like another slice? Of course yes. How about another? Around the tenth slice of cake, the lettuce starts looking very appealing.
This is the current state of the environment, especially soil.
Organic farming methods do show a significant improvement in soil quality but whether or not it is good for long-term, remains debatable.The soil is so abused with chemicals now that any even a mild change in methods is a great relief. However, to continue using organic methods till the top soils quality stabilizes, is recommended.
Myth# 3 Shifting to organic methods is a good idea
The population of the world in 2014 stands at 7.17 billion. Organic farming may be eco-friendlier, but the crop growth is much slower and the yield is roughly 25% lesser than crops produced conventionally.So while the switch in some crops makes sense, food grains produced organically cannot feed the population. This may cause a catastrophic food shortage.
Myth# 4 Organic food tastes better
Status: True for teas
Taste, in general, is subjective. And the placebo effect for health, called the “health halo still stands true.But the fact is that organic plants take longer to grow. Which means in tea, the time it takes for the enzymes responsible for flavor to percolate is higher. So while we can’t promise this for all foods, organic tea is more flavorful than its conventional counterparts.
To conclude, running to adapt a new trend isn’t going to save the world or keep you healthy; it is just striking a balance between how much we take and how much we give back. Rajiv believes a switch to the organic method for a short period, followed by a measured incorporation of both, organic and conventional farming may be a better strategy towards sustainability.