Organic Food: Is it a scam?

Photograph of desserts

Nicole Ann Quiambao

March 15, 2024

More than 9,000 farms in the United States transitioned from conventional farms to organic farms in 2007. Over the past few years, there has been an argument among U.S. consumers over what is better for the human body and the environment. Organic farming or conventional agriculture. As more people become aware of the impact that foods have, the demand for organic foods has significantly increased, especially in Western countries.

Though organic farming seems to have a range of benefits, as of right now, we are running out of space.

Each year more land is used for farming and soon there won’t be much left for non-farming use. There were only about 1 billion people during the 1800s before conventional farming was introduced. As stated by the British Ecology Society, the rising numbers of people on this planet have increased the demand for food and urbanization which will be impossible if organic farms occupy most of Earth’s surface. According to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the projected world population is 9.8 billion by 2050. Larger acres of land will be required to keep up with the demand for organic farming and thirty-eight percent of Earth’s surface is already occupied by agriculture.

Many consumers believe that organic farming is better for the environment. However, there is more land usage required to generate the same amount of food as conventional farming. To acquire more land for agriculture, deforestation needs to happen. The process of deforestation is the removal of trees to create a city, mining and agriculture, destroying ecosystems in the process.

Only thirty percent of the world is covered by forest but every year it decreases. It is an issue that has been rapidly growing also due to agricultural expansion. This effect of organic farming contradicts consumer beliefs. It is in fact not better for the environment and is causing harm to other species as well. According to the Global Watch Project, about 24 million of hectares global trees were lost. This causes a major impact on carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, and species extinction.

As stated by Science Direct: “Organic farms tend to have higher soil organic matter content and lower nutrient losses(nitrogen leaching, nitrous oxide emissions and ammonia emissions) per unit of field area. However, ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit were higher from organic systems. Organic systems had lower energy requirements, but higher land use, eutrophication potential and acidification potential per product unit. The variation within the results across different studies was wide due to differences in the systems compared and research methods used.”

The biggest appeal to organic foods is the health benefits and quality taste. Allergenicity and toxicity are one of the leading concerns of nonorganic products. In organic farming, they avoid using synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, pesticides and growth regulators. The long-term risk of these chemicals to the human body is currently unknown.

A current college student, Allison Robles, spends about $100 a week at Sprouts. In support of less environmental destruction, she is willing to spend a couple of dollars more for a Sprouts organic product that she can get elsewhere.

Robles mentions, “I was told that toxins can build up from the foods we eat so I started buying more organic foods. It’s less toxic since they don’t use pesticides and it apparently has a lot more nutrients than regular vegetables.”

There is little evidence that there is a difference between organic foods and conventional foods when it comes to nutrition.

She also mentions, “Organic food is also just better for the planet. It is natural farming like back in the day.”

Misconceptions and misunderstandings have spread worldwide towards conventional farming and genetically modified organisms better known as, GMOs. The lack of knowledge of GMOs is often misinformed. Consumers often hear about the negative stuff, often false, GMOs through social media and other unreliable news sources. According to Science Direct, 77.3 % of people get their information about GMOs on the Internet, 63.6 % get it from television and 54.5% learn from their relatives. Only a small portion of consumers receive their information from trusted scientists.

Now with the impact that social media has on the current generation, they are more likely to be influenced to eat organic foods. For example, Casey Ho is an influencer who shares her meal prep and diet plans on the internet and often uses organic products in her videos. At 9.36 million subscribers on YouTube, she has a lot of audience that might also follow her diet plan. As more health influencers show that they eat organic food the majority of the time, most people who lack knowledge of GMO food might get under the impression that it is “more healthy.”

As stated here: “If GMO crops and animals are presenting any concern to the consumer safety and/or environmental sustainability, there is no escape as GM entities are already in the environment, extensively crossing with the land races of the genetically engineered crops and their wild relatives, particularly for the cross-pollinating crops.”

As stated here: “GM entities are already in the environment, extensively crossing with the land races of the genetically engineered crops and their wild relatives, particularly for the cross-pollinating crops.”

Most consumers are concerned about environmental sustainability but genetic modification occurs in nature already. There are so many misconceptions of organic food but it is not that much better than conventional farm foods. There are so many benefits to GMO foods and with the rapid growth of the population, organic farms may not be able to produce foods at a fast pace and they help the farmers prevent food loss. Organic farming and conventional farming both have their negative and positive aspects but realistically, conventional food will be able to sustain the human population in the long run.

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