What is Organic?
Organic farming is a natural cycle.
Organic farming means growing food the way nature meant it to be grown. The food is grown using the natural cycle of life. The organic farmer starts with rich natural soil. The soil is made up of billions of microorganisms and has trace minerals that are good for food. The soil has been helped by worms by composting natural materials such as manure and unused parts of fruits and vegetables. The organic farmer grows plants that fit his climate and don’t need constant care. He also uses plants that attract good bugs and provide nutrients to the soil. He rotates his crops and other methods to allow the soil to rest so that he doesn’t ever overuse his land. Then the plants feed the farmer, his family and his animals and the extra can be sold at nearby markets. The plant waste and animal waste then complete the cycle by giving back to the soil.
U.S.D.A. Certified Organic
How can you tell what foods are organically grown? If you are at a grocery store and wondering where the organic foods are, look for the certified organic label. This label states that a food is approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.). This label means that the food is at least 95% organic. To be able to sell a product as certified organic that product must be approved organic. The farm where the foods are grown must be inspected by the U.S.D.A. to make sure the farm is organic. These are things that the U.S.D.A. will look for:
- You must have soil whose nutrients will stay in it for a long time.
- Your fields must be separate from non-organic fields.
- You must meet rules for labeling and record keeping.
- You cannot use any herbicides, fungicides, unapproved pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers.
- You must keep records of all the materials you used in growing a product.
- If a former conventional field is used to farm organically, no product from that field can be named organic until 3 years have passed.
If you sell a product labeled organic, and you know that the product doesn’t meet government standards, you may be fined. Don’t get mixed up with natural and organic. Even if the food is natural it does not mean that it meets U.S.D.A. standards or that it’s organically grown. Natural means that no other chemicals have been added.
Organic vs. Non-organic
Between organic and non-organic gardening there are some major differences.
A good organic farmer uses a natural cycle. He will plant only the crops that fit with his climate. The organic farmer will not plant the same crop on the same land two times in a row. He plants different crop on a different field every year. An organic farmer is not allowed to use any insecticides, miticides, fungicides, nematocides, herbicides and many more. He has to use animal waste as fertilizer. An organic beef farmer will not feed his cows any medicines. His fields never get sprayed and his cows are free to go inside or outside whenever they want.
A non-organic farmer will spray his crops many times with different chemicals to prevent weeds and bugs. A non-organic farmer will plant no cover crops and plant the same plant in the same soil many times. Often this leads to overuse of the soil. He will let his food be processed many times. Non-organic farmers do a lot of mass production.
A non-organic beef farmer will spray his grass with pesticides. He will give his cows de-worming medicine (if he even uses a field) and antibiotics. He might also lock his cows up in very small stalls and let them be processed.
There are indeed very many differences between organic and non-organic beef farming and gardening. While the organic farmer is very natural, the non organic farmer processes his food many times.
FMI (Food Marketing Institute) Backgrounder: Natural and Organic Foods.
Questions and Answers about Organic. Organic Trade Association. http://www.ota.com/organic/faq.html.
Organic Food Standard and Labels: The Facts. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html
Why Organic Gardening? Tropical Organic Gardening by Richard Stevens.
What is the Correct Definition of Organic Gardening? GardenWeb. http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002083353003940.html