Guest post by Jerett Turner
The trouble with organic food is not in eating organic. Who can argue against consuming fruits, vegetables, and grains grown without pesticides? Organic isn’t a new concept. It’s more of an old concept that’s been re-discovered. As far as I know, 19th century farms didn’t use lab synthesized fertilizers. But I would argue that organic has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream…again.
Below are a few reasons why organic isn’t turning everyone’s head just yet:
Cultivation and Productivity
Organic is paraded as better for the environment and our bodies. Again, it seems hard to argue that putting man made chemicals on our food is superior for either us or the ground.
But the current food cultivation and production system is what has allowed first world countries to progress so quickly. Growers and distributors have tweaked and refined a food system that runs near flawless. Rarely a day passes without your favorite local grocery store being stocked from floor to ceiling.
Organic growing, on the other hand, is inherently a slower process. Crops must be rotated more often to allow the dirt to replenish its nutrients. Weeding and pest control require more human eyes and hands to manage. Weather dictates what and when plants can be grown. The result? Lower harvest yields. And different produce throughout the year.
We don’t think twice that we can pick up a bunch of bananas or bag of oranges on our way home from work in the middle of January. Our food—it’s just there
In other words, organic is inconvenient. Why spend an entire Saturday morning hunting down produce when I can drive five minutes and buy anything I want anytime of the year? And when I do find organic produce in a more convenient location (i.e. a giant grocery store), it’s more expensive.
Cost and Distribution
Organic growers simply don’t have the manpower or, quite frankly, the technology to grow on a large scale. But, that’s the point. The only technology that organic needs more of is the sun.
Organic produce is left on the vine longer to ripen. Food that is fully ripened before it hits store shelves is usually rotten by the time it makes it. Mass produced food is picked early and allowed to ripen on it’s cross-country journey to retail outlets. Large trucks can carry tons of produce without worry that it will spoil in transit.
Organic must be picked late and quickly sold. This isn’t a novel concept. Our farming ancestors picked their ripened produce and either canned it for later use or kept it in a root cellar. When you’re growing most, if not all, your food, you’re typically not concerned with long term freshness.
One distinct advantage of organic farming is crop rotation. Crop rotation allows soil to naturally replenish nutrients. In mass food production, the soil is chemically recharged. In this way, land can be harvested indefinitely.
So the question remains, how do we continue to feed a growing country (and world) with a system that slows down production? A system that requires land to stay fallow every few seasons? How to work effectively within the disadvantages of organic farming? Within any disadvantage of organic food?
The only answer is that more individuals must take it upon themselves to grow, or raise, a portion of their own food. Either in back yards or on small land plots. A large scale organic food system is the sum of it’s individuals. We as individuals are the key to large scale organic food production.
There are organic food disadvantages, but they can all be overcome. But it will take time and it will take effort from many people.
Jerret Turner is a writer and researcher on budget tips. Save time and money by getting free tips and in-depth information on all things debt, investment, and budget related at BudgeSnob.com.