Why Organic Is Better for the Earth

Because of the constraints placed on organic farmers, the food they produce is less harmful to the planet than factory-farmed foods. Organic farming creates:

• Less pollution. Page 182 describes the huge toll factory farming takes on the environment. Nonorganic crop farming causes other environmental problems, as well, chiefly through the use of pesticides (page 29) and synthetic fertilizers (page 34), which can run off and pollute lakes, rivers, and groundwater.

• Healthier soil. A 21-year field trial conducted in Switzerland found that organic farming practices enhanced soil fertility and biodiversity—the soil had more mycorrhizae (fungi that attach to roots and help plants absorb nutrients), beneficial microbes, and earthworms than soil farmed using conventional methods. Other studies indicate that soil on organic farms holds water better, which means less watering and more water conservation.

• Fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. The main reason that organic farming produces fewer greenhouse gases is that it doesn't use synthetic fertilizers, which take a lot of energy to produce. For example, it takes 9.8 kWh to produce a single kilogram of nitrogen fertilizer.

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