Research regarding the environmental impact of organic food vs. its conventionally grown equivalent has generally found positive results for organic, meaning that one benefit of organic food is that it is less damaging to the environment.
A 2003 study by the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) entitled “An Assessment of the Environmental Impacts of Organic Farming” even found positive environmental benefits of organic food. So if you’d like to help your environment, try to find a service that delivers organic fruits and vegetables to your neighbourhood.
One argument against widespread organic farming is that it does not produce as much as conventional, modern farming, which uses lots of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Some research on specific crops and locations has supported this. However, a 2007 study (“Organic agriculture and the global food supply”) of 293 examples compared crop yields between organic and non organic farms in different parts of the world and in different food categories. Findings suggest that organic farming could support global food needs and potentially even larger populations while reducing negative environmental impacts.
According to Michael Pollan’s book An Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, if modern organic, sustainable farming was adopted on a global scale, world-wide food production could increase by as much as 50%.
Benefit of Organic Food and Energy use
Another benefit of organic food vis-à-vis the environment is energy efficiency. Studies have shown that organic farming is more energy efficient than conventional agriculture for many crops. A study entitled, “Soil organic matter, effects on soils and crops”, published back in 1986, claims that soil which is managed according to organic farming practices has better water retention, meaning less water is required during the growing process, and soil productivity and health is increased.
Industrial farms also tend to use more fossil fuels for growing, processing and transporting produce, resulting in more energy use than smaller, organic farms, especially those which aim to serve the needs of local populations.
Organic farms do not use chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, which pollute the environment (especially bodies of water) poisoning wildlife and disturbing ecosystems. Organic food growers also tend to produce less waste and packaging than industrial farms, a clear benefit of organic food over highly packaged, processed food products.
Finally, one crucial benefit of organic food is that it is usually grown in circumstances that preserve or encourage biodiversity. Organic polyculture farms, which have a variety of crops (as well as animals) and use beneficial insects and soil microorganisms, are especially good at sustaining diverse ecosystems.
So if you’d like to take advantage of all the benefits of organic food, while enjoying delicious, healthy fruits and vegetables, check and see if anyone delivers organic fruits and vegetables where you live!