WHY WE CHOOSE ORGANIC
Intensive industrial agriculture has become one of the biggest causes of ‘unhealthy soil’ – or soil degradation – and it has become one of the most unsustainable practices of modern civilization. According to Louise Baker, the external relations head of the UN body for desertification: “Industrial agriculture is good at feeding populations but it is not sustainable. It’s like an extractive industry.” She said the fact that a third of land is now degraded should prompt more urgent action to address the problem.
By contrast, the purpose of organic farming is to support a healthy soil. This is so fundamental to our entire food system in the long run – without it, we couldn’t have the diversity of food we need to maintain our health and or the quantity we need to survive.
Our philosophy has always been to support growers who have our health in mind and that of our planet. We will never compromise on that. And over our journey, we’ve met so many farmers who are aligned with this philosophy. Some are certified organic and small. Others are certified organic and farm at a large scale. Some use sustainable practices that organic farming is based on, without certifying themselves organic – we’ve seen all these variations and want to support all these farmers who are custodians of the land. Below we’ve compiled the 3 main things that organic farmers do differently, that make a difference.
Monocropping vs. crop rotations
Industrial agriculture is based on the continuous growth of one crop in one location over a long period of time, in the endeavour to increase efficiency. Over time, this crop gradually depletes the soil of the nutrients it uses, without any replenishment. Then industrial farmers have to use fertilizers, which require high amounts of fossil fuel to make, to replenish the soil. Organic farmers plan a blueprint of growth, where crops are rotated over seasons.
So a crop that uses one type of nutrient will be followed by another crop that absorbs another type of nutrient. This gives the soil time to regenerate and replenish. Organic farmers also plant ‘cover crops’ like legumes when the ground is fallow. They plough the cover crops by spring, imbedding legume plant material into the soil. This plant material becomes decayed organic matter that replenishes the soil with the nutrients that main food crops have exhausted from it.
Use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other synthetic chemicals
Because monocropping exhausts certain types on nutrients from the soil, industrial agriculture relies on synthetic fertilisers. Synthetic fertilizers are made with the use of petrochemicals and are very energy intensive to produce. Apart from that, they can be toxic to many of the soil organisms (millions of insects, bacteria, etc.) that are fundamental in regenerating the soil – further compounding the problem of degradation over a period of time.
Monocultures also mean that the pest-susceptibility of crops increases because the type of pest that is drawn to a particular crop knows where to find its crop of choice. This results in extensive use of pesticides, which again is toxic to natural organisms in the soil, further compounding the problem of soil degradation. Because organic farmers use different farming techniques like carefully designed crop rotations and cover crops, they do not use synthetic fertilizers. They use natural and mechanical techniques to prevent pests.
Intensive tillage vs. conservation tillage
Conventional farmers rely on intensive tillage techniques to control the prevalence of pests. Tillage is the mechanical manipulation of soil (in essence turning soil over) with different tools such as plows and it triggers erosion. Alternatively, organic farmers use hand weeding, mulching and various other techniques that are kinder to the soil. This is harder work, but in the end it is worth it for taking care of the biodiveristy of the planet.
We know that often organic is seen as more expensive. But we choose to stick with it because we believe as more and more consumers demand it, more farms grow it, and more resources for research are available – like any other economic system – price will come down over time. As more research is done, there is evidence that yields will also go up. Changing the food system is a journey – there are so many things that need fixing. Choosing to source organic for now is just one of the things we can do to help and we’re so glad to have the opportunity to be a part of this movement to make a difference, and we hope to have you onboard with us to help create a fairer future.