THE RETURN OF THE ORGANIC MOVEMENT

The Plough to Platter technique followed hundred years ago lost its meaning as the food industry revolutionized the way we eat. It not only changed the face of farming and but also that of our food by using chemicals which are harmful in every context. Over the years, prices rose and although sufficient food was available in the market, it became inaccessible by the poor. The 20th century brought about a major change. More food production was offered as a solution to the high prices and the New Green Revolution started.

 

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With the developments in technology and science genetically engineered and genetically modified organisms came into existence. These crops were used abundantly to increase food production, however only in the most ideal environmental conditions. Moreover, engineered to stand high chemicals, they became a threat both to human health as well as the environment. Over the decades, awareness about chemicals, genetically modified organisms, the effects of conventional farming on the environment, and consciousness about how small scale farmers are being affected etc. has revolutionized our farming techniques. It wasn’t long ago when we realized that investing in GMO-seed technology may not be considered the best idea. This was followed with the return of the organic movement.

The increasing popularity of organic farming has changed the face of farming, food, environment and human health for the better. Buying something which is labeled organic, by good and reliable brands such as Organic Soul, means you are buying products not sprayed with pesticides, treated with antibiotics, or worse genetically modified. While conventional farming may be beneficial in terms of big scale food production, its effects on the environment, human health, as well as the home economies of small scale farmers cannot be overruled! Buying organic means you are helping in transforming the lives of poor farmers. In the light of this, the return of organic farming has become a major revolution of the 21st century.

In organic agriculture, the most successful farms are the ones which mix a number of crops and build the soil with composted manure. Transforming food waste into high quality compost can be done easily with investment in infrastructure for small-scale production of organic produce. Besides this, helping the small-scale farmers understand the concept of organic better and educating them on its benefits can bring about a major change. For the small scale farmers who believed that only expensive fertilizers and pesticides can result in higher production and therefore, higher profits, it is important to not only encourage them towards organic agricultural techniques but also make sure that they are getting their due profit from it.

The return of the organic movement has seen quite its success with the increase in the number of companies who are collaborating with small scale farmers, such as Organic Soul, but a lot of people are still unaware about how buying organic is the right way to eating and remaining healthy. The truth is if you do not become a part of this movement, as an organic producer or even as a customer, you will never understand the first hand benefits of organic. Therefore, it is not only important to grow organic, but also support organic farmers directly by buying and eating more organic!

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ORGANIC FARMING: NEED OF THE HOUR!

Scientific evidence over the past few decades have shown us the importance of organic farming in combatting world hunger and at the same time taking care of the environment. Organic farming has become critical for yielding enough food for the growing population as well as regenerating the ecological balance of environment through Eco-friendly methods of food production. It can protect the ecosystems which sustain life, the soil and water which offer nourishment, and the pollinators which are often destroyed by chemical fertilizers used during conventional farming.

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Effects of soil erosion, water depletion from major resources, greenhouse gas emissions and washing off of synthetic fertilizer to oceanic bodies can be reduced to a significant amount through techniques that focus on preserving the environment. Comparing industrial agriculture with organic farming brings the ill-effects of industrial methods and the pros of organic farming to our focus. Studies have shown that organic produce is more resilient to harsh climate impacts such as floods or droughts due to better soil structure and water holding capacity of the soil on organic farms.

Organic farming has proven to be a conservation-based method. It exhausts less energy and offers greater benefits to both the environment and humans’ health. It has also been observed to promote bio-diversity through the use of natural pesticides that do not harm pollinators and useful insects. By eliminating highly toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, organic farming has helped save millions of small species. Other than all this, by restoring larger amounts of carbon in the soil, organic farming is proving to be a beneficial strategy to mitigate climate change.

With expert researches, surveys and scientific reports, organic methods of farming have proven to be far more efficient on a wide spectrum. Besides offering environmental and health benefits, it outperforms conventional agriculture methods on economic stability. Organic farming systems are more cost-effective for farmers and help in boosting local economies. Large scale organic farming can even help reduce poverty, apart from protecting the health of rural communities, farmworkers, and consumers.

In spite of the agrichemical industry spreading misleading rumours over the internet about the necessity of the chemical-driven food industry, the organic industry is booming at a high rate now and the demand of organic produce is increasing. The need of the hour is to generate new policies and interest towards organic farming and to meet the growing demands of the organic market. By familiarizing local farmers with its benefits, we can build sustainable food practices and confront challenging environmental issues including water scarcity, soil erosion, climate change, and loss of biodiversity.

Brands such as Organic Soul are spreading awareness amongst consumers to support this resilient agriculture system and encouraging farmers to shift towards the sustainable methods of organic farming.

 

DEBUNKING ALTERED FACTS ABOUT ORGANIC

As organically grown food is getting more and more popular, many myths about organic farming have also come up. These myths and rumours lead people to believe that organic techniques are nothing better than conventional techniques, and in some cases even more harmful. It seems that the circulation of these rumours is driven by the insecurity of the food industry about losing customers and profits. Let’s get over some of these myths and move towards growing organic, buying organic.

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Myth 1: Organic farming uses pesticides which are even more harmful.

Fact 1: It is true that organic farming uses pesticides. Pesticides are required during farming to keep away pests such as ants, cockroach, flies, and warps. Pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. In organic farming, only natural-based substances are used such as Solanine, Caffeine, Nicotine, Capsaicin, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Oregano, Thyme, Cloves, and Basil. These are good pesticides that are natural and do not have any harmful effects!

Myth 2: Organic products are expensive.

Fact 2: There is no doubt that organic foods are higher in price than the conventional counterparts. However, if you track the amount of money being spent on supplements, daily vitamin doses, medicines, and doctor’s fees for many common as well as fatal ailments which can be avoided through the consumption of organic food, you would realize that organic products are offering better healthcare and thus, actually reducing the amount we are spending on food and health.

Myth 3: It takes longer to grow organic products and the produce is less.

Fact 3: Organic foods do not take longer to grow. The issue is the soil which has already been destroyed by the conventional techniques of farming. To fully replenish the soil to its natural form, it takes around 3 years. A proper strategy can help farmers without incurring loss of produce. Also, it has been noted that organic produce is way more sustainable when it comes to agricultural issues such as droughts. In fact, organic techniques help in getting better produce with less number of seeds and less water.

Myth 4: Harmful fertilizers are being used to grow organic food.

Fact 4: Organic farming techniques do not need harmful fertilizers as the soil on which it’s grown is rich in natural ingredients. Organic fertilizers such as animal and vegetable waste, peat, slurry, guano, crop residue and compost, as well as techniques such as matka manure leave no need for the use of any chemicals on organic farms.

Myth 5: Nobody is buying organic, so why grow it?

Fact 5: Organic food market is growing at a rate of 30%, which is in itself remarkable. There are less number of people who are buying organic, but the more we grow organic the more people will get encouraged to buy organic. It’s still an issue which needs attention, but a little effort to educate ourselves and spread awareness on the benefits of eating organic can help the industry that is working on preserving the natural benefits and reducing chemicals in various food products.

 

HOW POISONED IS OUR FOOD?

Every food item we gleefully put on our plate with the thought of eating healthy has become a reason for increasing illnesses and health issues today. One out of every five food samples is unfit for consumption, according to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Adulteration and contamination with dangerous chemicals in fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats, dairy products, tea, spices and grains, has become a common practice of the food industry.

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India tops the list of violators of food in the world. It has been observed that around one third of food frauds take place due to use of illegal and excessive insecticides and pesticides, contamination by pathogens, filth and chemical fertilizers. “They all say ‘healthy’ but tests have shown they are hardly that,” says Dr Suneeta Chandorkar, Department of Food and Nutrition, MS University, Vadodara, according to whom mislabeling of packaged products is a worrying issue!

The WHO report ‘How Safe Is Your Food’ entails a number of diseases caused by food contamination, including neurological disorders, gynaecological issues, immunological illnesses, as well as multi-organ failure. Food borne diseases have been a cause of death for over 4 lac infants, every year in India. While microbial infections can manifest immediately causing diarrhea and food poisoning, chemical contamination can affect the body in the form of slow poison. While no data have been issued over the cost of contaminated food, its effect on health has been at a large scale.

For example, tea, which is consumed as a beverage 2-3 times daily in India, is adulterated with iron fillings, exhausted tea leaves, coal tar dye, sand, and sawdust, and has become an increasing cause of liver disorders, lung and skin cancers. On the other hand, vegetables and fruits are often artificially coloured and injected with growth hormones. Even wheat flour, which is used daily to make chapatti, bread, and breakfast delicacies, contains more than 20 chemicals, apart from fungus, mud and insects, resulting in a number of health issues ranging from liver malfunction to kidney damage and diabetes. Contamination in wheat, barley, maize, and oats has been known to cause gastrointestinal bleeding as well as jaundice.

What’s the consumer doing?

The biggest offence and one which affects health of consumers the most, is mislabeling. A strong monitoring system, random lab tests and a strict policy to maintain transparency about the contents of packaged products can help. Besides, this is the right of the consumer! If the consumer is aware these kinds of frauds can be limited with effect on a large scale. Today, due to poor infrastructure of labs and untrained staff, the food manufacturers at their will set wrong standards and get a clean chit with wrong labeling. A demand for fair trade practices, better enforcement of food laws, support for inspection and monitoring, can change the face of the food industry, but it may take years for us to even start with.

Grow organic and buy organic!

If you compare organic produce with the produce grown conventionally, you would inarguably agree that the levels of chemicals are as much as 98% less in organic foods! Organic food is actually beneficial and holds the power to healthier human bodies. While the consumer is still looking at organic food as a way to rob their hard earned money, what they are failing to see is that the food they are eating is robbing their health which is far more valuable than anything. Today, organic brands such as ‘Organic Soul’ are coming up with ways to save the world from the dangerous effects of harmful chemicals and pesticides by simply ensuring that the organic produce you get remains truly “Organic”.