Hurrah for the Underdog

We are big fans of local organic farming and not just because we are building an organic farm in Panama.

Foremost is that it creates community resilience but also the food is better for your health and it tastes better.   But  “Agribusinesses have long clung to the rallying cry of needing to increase yields in order to feed the world.”

So is the organic farming trend just for pseudo-hippies, health fanatics, environmental nuts, and survivalists?  Is it a fad?

Well a thirty year long study by Rodale Institute has shown that organic farming actually produces yields equal to that of “conventional” farming techniques.

I’m none too pleased that factory farming is called “conventional” in this study!  In my opinion, and with a slightly longer time frame, I think it is the organic farming that is the conventional way.

But I digress.

This is awesome news and it cuts the agribusiness arguments at the knees.   Although in my opinion the resilience factor, the health factor and the TASTE factor are enough for me to do my best to support local organic farmers when I can.

This study adds a lot more fuel to the fire.

The study is called  “The Farming Systems Trial“.  If you are interested,  I’ve linked to the whole study which is very readable, but here are the highlights…

1.  Organic yields match conventional yields:  The organic farming techniques don’t match the yields of conventional farming for the first few years, but in a long-term study like this they found out that over the medium and long-term organic farming does match the yields of conventional farming.

2.  Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought:  This is huge.  No matter what you think about climate change, droughts do happen.  And that’s when you really need resilient crops.   Not fragile techno-engineered crap food.   Give me the real deal please.   Something hardy.   In the study organic corn crops performed 31% better in drought years.

Organic Corn yields in Drought years

3.  Organic farming systems build, rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system:  Resilience means being prepared, and that is true of soil too.  If you wear out your soil you will need to use a lot more chemicals to keep it producing, or you will have to move and start all over.  No Thanks.

4.  Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient:  The application of fertilizer uses huge quantities of oil and that commodity is  getting more and more expensive.  As the soil gets worse the disadvantages to “conventional” farming will become more apparent and, in my opinion, more abhorrent.

Organic Farming Uses Less Energy

5.  Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional:  Well this is the biggie isn’t it?  Nothing will drive change faster than profitability, as much as we wish it were otherwise.



So to sum up, and quote from the study…

Today we produce food within a system that is broken. Within roughly seventy years,
our current chemical-based agricultural system is already showing its weaknesses—
depleted soil, poisoned water, negative impacts on human and environmental health,
and dysfunctional rural communities. We should be directing our valuable time and
resources working towards a truly sustainable food production system based on sound
biological principles.
To repair our food system, we must focus on the basics—soil health and water
quality—and how we can improve upon these natural resources so that we return
as much as we take, thus ensuring our future. By building and improving soil health,
utilizing organic practices to fix nutrients in the soil, encouraging biodiversity, and
greatly minimizing synthetic inputs, organic producers are ensuring the sustainability
of the system indefinitely. Not just feeding the world’s growing population today, or
tomorrow, but far into the foreseeable future.

So  support your local farmers, so they can support you, and your children in the future.

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