The benefits of eating organic

Buying organic can help preserve the environment, boost your health and support the local economy.

Courtney Johnson

My new favorite midnight snack is a bowl full of organic yogurt and organic blueberries. This is a nice change from the salty, sugary and artificially flavored foods that now occupy the back of my pantry at home. The best part about it is that not only is my new treat much tastier, but it is a lot healthier as well.

Certain organic, sustainable foods have become a popular source of nutrients for other students as well. Not only do these foods generally taste better, but they are better for the long-term health of our bodies. Their production also helps to promote a more sustainable environment. Using wind and solar power are often cited as ways to conserve the environment, but organic farming can similarly have a positive effect on the environment as well.

Organic food production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the persistent use of toxic pesticides. These pesticides, which are used in the conventional method of farming, pose a health risk to consumers. These chemicals include, but are not limited to, carcinogens, neurotoxins and groundwater contaminants that destroy the biodiversity of the soil that produces nonorganic crops.

This is why it is important to consume organic foods. Supporting a system that does not use chemicals âÄî it uses natural fertilizers instead âÄî is better for the overall health of our bodies.

When one thinks of ways to help sustain the environment, one does not usually think of the importance of soil. However, protecting soil is important because of the amount of time that it takes the earth to produce it. The earth naturally produces only 6 inches of topsoil every 3,000 years. Conventional farming practices can be detrimental to this valuable soil, causing 1 inch of topsoil to be lost every 28 years. The chemicals present in conventional farming practices cause more erosion of the soil and cause it to host fewer bacteria that help it prosper. On the other hand, organic practices enhance the biodiversity of soils, increasing their fertility. In turn, soil creation takes as little as 50 years to create the same 6 inches of soil on land that is organically farmed âÄî that is 60 times faster than the rate of nature.

If youâÄôve ever been to the St. Paul campus in the spring or summer, then you might have seen the University of MinnesotaâÄôs own organic farm that is operated by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, cooperating with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. This student-run organic farm is considered a full functioning U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic farm. Cornercopia âÄî as it is called âÄî grows over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, some of which are even sold at the weekly University and Minneapolis farmerâÄôs markets. This results in more research to create other more effective farming methods.

FarmerâÄôs markets, such as the one at the University, help to support a local economy. This economic efficiency is created in a variety of ways. By protecting soilâÄôs potential through organic practices, it produces a yield three times higher than conventional farming. This higher yield contributes to reducing malnutrition and hunger. Research done at places like the UniversityâÄôs organic farm âÄî including farm and nutrient management systems âÄî help create these higher yields.

Buying fruits and vegetables at the UniversityâÄôs farmerâÄôs market is only one way that students can help to sustain the environment. Buying organic produce at special markets in the Minneapolis area can help support not only your own personal health, but also the overall long-term health of the environment and society.

 

Courtney Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected]