Organic versus Conventional Farming

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 6:42 PM



Is organically grown food better than conventionally grown food? For many the decision to buy organic food is a choice made in order to keep mother earth healthy as well as the consumer herself, but have all the considerations been reviewed? Molly McCargar of Pearmine Farms Inc. explained many things the general public may be unaware of. Soil growing organic produce needs more tilling in order to keep weeds and other plants from invading the produce. Additional nitrogen is required for organically grown food that needs to be combined with the soil through tilling. More tilling means either more manual labor or more machine tilling. Manual tilling drives up the cost of labor for the farmer and therefore the consumer; machine tilling means more diesel fuel exhaust is pumped in the air. Machinery is required to be cleaned before working in an organic field utilizing extra water and cleanser.

Molly and I discussed the benefits of conventional farming and how pesticides and chemicals have improved over the years. Many of the pesticides currently in use are naturally occurring and with high levels of toxicity. Using these natural pesticides in low doses is more beneficial and easier than it used to be in the days of heavy field spraying with artificial chemicals. While chemicals are expensive, the crops produced have a higher yield and can feed more people in the local area.

Ultimately, Molly tells me, farmers are in the business of growing food to feed people. There are many considerations to how a farmer grows food. Is there a large yield to produce, is it about the money (Molly laughs!), or is there an aspiration to have an organic farm because it feels good or wanting to have the feeling of doing the right thing. There are pros and cons to each version of farming and the consumer has many options for purchasing what they believe is the best option. Considering all variables in growing options for the food we consume may be a daunting task, but there options for every thought strain and value.

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