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Disadvantages Of Organic Food?

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • chad September 2, 2010, 4:57 pm

    The speed at which the current system developed has also caused it to over develop into an ineffecient hulk.

    Concern over scaling up or down is a very wily red herring. The aim of true organic/permaculture farming is to produce more with less. Efficiency, not big or up or small or down.

    Returning to a Jeffersonian Agricultural model is also not the aim. Regression should never be. Modern science tells us precisely what crops work best together, takes the guess work out of rotation and allows us to connect online and learn how to do it.

    Overall, an enjoyably thoughtful post too often missing from exercise discussion.

  • Jerret September 7, 2010, 7:54 pm

    Thanks, Chad.

    I think the biggest obstacle is in people’s minds. We don’t want to have to think about our food. We just want it to be available whenever and where ever possible.

    Only problem is it may all come crashing down. Then what? Thanks for the comment.

  • Paul de Jonge November 19, 2011, 3:36 pm

    I am a grower but use those ‘man made chemicals’. One question I struggle with is that we can not make elements, if I could, I would make gold and never grow anything again (for profit). I have talked with scientists about the difference bewteen organic N & inorganic N. Now first I need to understand that and then the question is does that make the plant different? I use bugs in my greenhouse to kill the pests which seems to me better for the plants, employees and consumers. However I do not understand how the difference in nutrients makes the fruit/ vegetable any different. I don’t disagree that organic is healthy, but it would seem difficult to produce enough food for the worlds population without the assistance of ‘man made’ elements/ nutrients