Organic farming / foods

food Jul 2, 2021
Traveled to a remote village close to Lake Como in Italy. I stayed with a loving family of five who let me pick fruits and vegetables from their farm to put this spread together.
Photo by Ella Olsson / Unsplash

Plants and crops need fertilizers for their proper growth. They require key nutrients potash, nitrogen, and phosphates in large amounts and trace elements magnesium, iron, boron, manganese and molybdenum in extremely small amounts.

In conventional farming, chemical fertilizers and pesticides are extensively used and this is causing harm to the health, to local ecosystems, biodiversity, groundwater and drinking water supplies.
Public which has become nervous about the chemical pesticides and additives used in intensive farming and food production, is impressed by the healthy food produced by natural means.
Organic farming is recognised as the most environmentally friendly form of agriculture.

Organic food is the food produced by the methods that observe the standards of organic farming. According to agricultural science, “organic" refers to the methods used to grow and process the food and it does not necessarily mean the chemical composition of the food.
It means, the food products grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers, and sewage sludge based synthetic fertilizers, and artificial methods, materials and conditions such as chemical ripening, food irradiation, and genetically modified ingredients and animal products like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products produced without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
It does not necessarily mean that no pesticides are used in organic food production.
Natural pesticides should be used instead of synthetic because they are believed to be less toxic, and have less health risks.  
If pests and weeds cannot be controlled in organic crop production, through management practices or organic pesticides and herbicides, to prevent, suppress, or control pests, weeds, and diseases, pesticide included in the National List of synthetic substances mentioned under US federal organic standards can be allowed to be used.

The food products grown in our own home vegetable garden cannot be considered organic even though they were grown by using only natural fertilizers and pesticides.
If the garden food has to be claimed organic officially, Organic Certificate should be obtained.
Organic certificate can be obtained to the foods when the food products are grown and manufactured following the standards set by the country they are sold in.
In India: National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) and in the United States: National Organic Program (NOP) Standards.
Certified organic foods bear the USDA logo.
Even though organic farms are smaller, costlier than conventional ones, take more time to produce crops, organic foods are safer and healthier because they are free from harmful chemicals, growth hormones and genetically modified ingredients which are used by conventional farmers.
Production-oriented government subsidies reduce the overall cost of crops.
Government should give more support to organic farming to meet consumer demand because it is one option for a more environmentally friendly form of agriculture. Government should support organic farmers by providing aid schemes. Public also should be convinced to buy only organic produce.


  • Organic farming is better for the environment because it reduces pollution, soil erosion, conserves water, increases soil fertility, and uses less energy.
  • Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. (According to the strict guidelines of The Environmental Protection Agency, a tolerant amount of pesticide residue can be allowed in or on any particular food).
  • The amount of nitrogen content in vegetables, like green leafy vegetables and tubers, has been found to be lower than conventionally grown foods.
  • Antioxidants such as polyphenols which play a role in the reduction of risk for a variety of chronic diseases, including certain cancers, are significantly higher in organic crops.
  • Conventionally grown crops have shown to contain significantly higher concentrations of cadmium than in organic crops. long-term oral exposure to low levels of cadmium can result in kidney damage and bone fragility in humans, and anaemia, liver disease, nerve damage, and brain damage in animals.
  • Levels of omega-3 fatty acids in organic chicken are higher than conventional chicken.


  • Organic produce is more expensive to grow. Organic farms are smaller than conventional farms, so the yields are also smaller.
  • Organic foods spoil faster because they are not treated chemically by preservatives.
  • The appearance of organic foods is inferior because they are not treated by hormones or genetically modified ingredients.
  • Organic farming involves more labor because farmers do not use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or drugs.
  • The cost of organic feed for animals is very high. Getting an Organic certification is also expensive.
  • Ultimately, the cost of organic food is more than conventionally grown food.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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