Organic food production sets the standard for environmental and personal
health. Organic foods are produced without toxic and persistent chemicals
commonly used in the production of conventional foods.
Basic Organic Farming
farmers manage their crops using proactive practices to prevent problems,
thereby eliminating the need for synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and
other contaminants. Organic farmers:
Organic Farming Practices
- Replenish and maintain soil fertility.
- Do not use toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
- Restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.
- Build and support biologically diverse agriculture, by planting
a diverse amount of seeds, and perpetuating heirloom and open-pollinated
- Are certified as organic, all organic farmers must keep records
verifying their practices and products used.
- Are inspected by USDA accredited inspectors to verify compliance
with organic standards.
Organic farmers use the most environmentally
progressive solutions to manage pests and disease problems that can
affect crops. These include:
Crop rotation: Alternating the crops grown in each field, rather
than growing the same crop year after year (mono-cropping). Different
plants contribute varying nutrients to the soil. By rotating crops,
the soil is naturally replenished. This time-honored practice can eliminate
the need for insecticides in many crops since the insect's life cycle
and habitat are interrupted and destroyed.
Cover crops: Can protect the soil, add nutrients, prevent weed
growth, aerate the soil with deep root systems, and fertilize the soil
by building organic matter when plowed under. Cover crops also conserve
soil moisture and feed the soil's microflora and fauna, such as earthworms.
By encouraging the lifecycles of beneficial soil organisms, problematic
bacteria, fungi, nematodes, diseases and insects are prevented from
Nurture beneficial insects: Organic farms utilize natural
predators to control pests that destroy their crops, which eliminates
the need for chemical insecticides that remains in the soil for years
and permeate into groundwater. Wetlands, forests, and prairies are preserved
to provide habitat for the predators that serve as natural insecticides.
Add compost and plant wastes: Use of manure in organic production
is highly regulated, unlike the animal manures and fertilizers used
in conventional farming. The continuous cycling of naturally occurring
materials helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients. Correctly made
compost kills pathogens and weed seeds, producing a fertilizer that
encourages soil life and healthy crops.
Organic Livestock Practices
A healthy environment for animals is foremost
for organic livestock producers. Fresh air, clean water, out-door access,
proper housing and 100% organic feed all help reduce stress and keep
the animals healthy. This decreases the need for antibiotics, which
are not allowed in animals raised for their organic meat. If an animal
needs antibiotic treatment, then the animal can no longer be sold as
"organic." Other livestock practices include:
Basic Conventional Farming
- No growth hormones or genetically engineered products.
- No animal by-products in feed.
- Cows and other ruminants must have access to pasture.
- Slaughtering practices must be humane.
- Manure must be managed to prevent contamination of crops, soil
or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals
or residues of prohibited substances.
Conventional farms use an assortment of
synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, genetically engineered organisms
and growth enhancers to stimulate soil and crops. The focus on these
farms is on short-term yield increases rather than long term soil health.
- When the soil lacks various nutrients, they are added through
the use of synthetic fertilizers.
- Crops may be grown from genetically engineered seeds.
- Pesticides or fungicides may be used to control insects in crop
storage and transportation.
- Can use manure as fertilizer without restrictions.
- Are not required to keep records of their production practices.
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