Even though we've entered the information age, agriculture still defines our society. Agriculture employs nearly half the world's population and, for thousands of years, all crops were grown organically. Organic farming was the only option; petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides did not exist.
Technology developed during World War II spurred sweeping changes in agriculture. Ammonium nitrate (used for munitions during the war) evolved into ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Nerve gas production led to the development of potent pesticides. And thus modern agriculture was born.
Big chemical companies have convinced farmers that they need synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetic engineering, and large-scale mechanization to produce maximum crop yields. But this is not true. Farmers embracing organic farming methods are seeing higher yields, better quality crops and are spending less on fertilizer than conventional methods.
The most disturbing problem with modern agriculture is that the synthetic chemicals never disappear. When you eat an apple grown using synthetic pesticides, the pesticides remain in the apple, and the chemicals end up in your fat cells. Similarly, cotton grown using synthetic chemicals retains the chemicals after it is woven into a fabric.
Many of these chemicals are also carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Synthetic pesticides have also been shown to suppress the immune system, disrupt hormones, and damage the nervous system. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women. Besides harming humans, modern agricultural practices also rapidly deplete natural resources and seriously pollute the soil, water, and air.
Organic farming, on the other hand, promotes the health of both consumers and the environment. Organic farming excludes the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and genetic engineering. Organic farmers respect their land: they feed and build the soil with natural fertilizers and compost; they protect crops against insects using natural insect predators, barriers, or traps; and they control weed growth with crop rotation, hand weeding, cover crops, and mulches.
In the past decade, the organic agriculture market has grown exponentially because more consumers are learning that organic farming is better for them and their environment. In addition, more farmers are realizing that they can be even more successful by using organic farming methods that produce better quality, better tasting fruit, and higher crop yields, all the while saving money. What's more is that, because of the demand for higher quality organic foods, consumers are willing to pay more for organic and thus, profits on an already better crop go up. What a deal! Do the right thing for people and the environment and get rewarded with higher profits and the satisfaction that you get when you're doing something GOOD.
The future of organic farming depends on you. If you want to help rid your body and your environment of toxic chemicals, then start by buying products with a certified organic label and support organic farming.