Good for nature and good for you

Cassandra Adams

A breakdown of what organic really means

Farming season has begun in many communities across Ohio, and the first day of the Haymakers Farmers’ Market is on the horizon.

Both commercial farmers and those who take part in farmer’s markets are at the crux of a rising trend — organic foods. What is the real difference between the $1.59 head of lettuce and the one that costs $3.79? It’s all about how it’s made.

What’s the difference?

In simple terms, organic is defined as a substance of animal or vegetable origin.

While conventional farmers use pesticides and herbicides that cause damage to the earth, organic farming use several different methods that differ. These include using natural fertilizer, insects to get rid of pests, rotating crops, and giving animals organic feed and more humane conditions.

“My perspective and why I only distribute organic products is because the consistent use of pesticide is ruining the land,” said Jeff Ingram, produce and bulk buyer for Kent Natural Foods Co-op.

Ingram said the second reason for his all-organic usage is the sickness created from the residual pesticides that end up in the food — and in your body.

These chemicals result in a lower immune system and make it easier to contract diseases, he said.

And the evidence isn’t buried. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council Web site, every year farmers and locals close to conventional farms “suffer from poisonings and serious health effects from pesticide spraying.”

A grain of history

Agriculture for most of human history has been organic. It changed in the 20th century.

“When they started building more farms 50 years ago, the smaller, family owned farms went larger and had to spray with chemicals, creating a larger volume of pesticides and herbicides, less farmers and bigger farms,” Ingram said.


When all routes fail, follow the money. The biggest criticism organic food gets is its price compared to non-organic foods.

Several factors as to why organic tends to be more expensive include the higher price for organic animal feed, more labor intensive farming, more expensive shipping for bulkier compost and animal manure. Also, the crop yield, the amount of plant crop harvested per unit in an amount of time, is often lower compared to conventional farming.

Conventional farming uses every acre of farmland while organic farmers rotate their crops often enough to keep the soil healthy.

Your body, your life,

your decision

Essentially, being educated is the first step to a more aware lifestyle, contributing to a more environmentally friendly change and making the decision of what to do with your body and life.

Contact features correspondent Cassandra Adams

at [email protected].