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The ROI of Organic Food and Agriculture

Organic agriculture is about a functional system that regenerates the living and the environment

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green business footprint for California sustainable environment Life cycle costing requires that we look past our nose...past our grocery list and past our monthly expenditures. Organic is not just about food. It's about water pollution / cleanness. It's about air quality. It's about transportation and oil consumption. It's about local food security. And it's about great taste, healthy natural nutrition and yes, lifelong health.

"A growing body of research shows that pesticides and other contaminants are more prevalent in the foods we eat, in our bodies, and in the environment than we thought. And studies show that by eating organic foods, you can reduce your exposure to the potential health risks associated with those chemicals." Consumer Reports (Feb. 2006)

What does organic farming mean?

Organic agriculture is an approach to farming with a connected system to maintain and improve the nutritional productivity of the land by encouraging and enhancing natural biological processes -- the conversion of living heritage, soil, sunlight and air into food.

The functional foundation for healthy plants and animals is healthy soil. Organic farmers strive to grow strong, healthy crops by stimulating soil biology, growing cover crops to build soil structure, using innovative methods of pest control, and fostering organic research projects.

Organic Farming Practices

The use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides is prohibited in Certified Organic Production. Organic certification takes years of cleaning the soil and water system of contaminants and documenting the organic system of production.

Why does organic sometimes cost more?

The cost of organic food is sometimes higher than that of conventional food because the organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food: substituting labor and intensive management for chemicals. Agricultural chemicals for the most part do not replenish the earth's natural vitality and the health and environmental costs of depletion or leaching into water or air supplies are borne by society through higher health care costs, toxic cleanups, etc. These remedial agricultural costs include cleanup of polluted water and remediation of pesticide contamination.

Prices for organic foods include costs of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage, in similar ways to traditional agricultural, but with added constraints that reduce shelf life and replacing it with flavor, etc. by focusing on heritage species rather than strains that are bred for long shelf life, thick skins and resistance to insects.

Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all these steps than conventional foods.

The intensive management and labor used in organic production are frequently (though not always) more expensive than the chemicals routinely used on conventional farms.

There is mounting economic evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food production were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same, or, more likely, be cheaper than conventional food. Source: The Organic Farming Research Foundation.

The System

Food is always part of systems -- the natural weather and earth systems. The distribution system. The nutrition system... and the health system. "We are what we eat," as our parents used to say.

You've probably noticed that what you eat affects your digestion and your other regularity functions. The nutritional value of our food is directly infused into our bodies, and it makes sense that we protect that source and make the food as natural and wholesome as our evolutionary development has fine-tuned our muscles and bones and blood to expect. Real food provides real energy and real health. That's the driving system behind organic.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
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