Choosing organic foods not only reduces the toxins you expose yourself to, it also helps protect the environment. Organic foods are grown without chemical pesticides, the residues of which remain in the soil and wash into our watersheds. Small family farmers will tell you that “organic” farming is nothing new — for the most part, they are simply continuing to farm the way their parents and grandparents did, with the basic premise that preserving the earth is critical to sustaining farmland. It is only in the past half century that the focus of corporate agriculture shifted to making more food faster and cheaper. While pesticides are regulated and foods offered for sale in the US have to meet “maximum residue levels,” less emphasis is given to monitoring the lingering effects of pesticide usage on the environment. Despite the growth pains of the organic industry, with small farms on one end choosing to forgo certification due to the cost and time involved, and large-scale operations on the other end stretching or evading the rules, growing consumer awareness and pressure is the only way to force the big players to reform their practices.
Locally, the misguided obsession with ethanol is reversing recent progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. While local consumers are increasingly looking for organically grown corn, there is no incentive to corn growers to behave responsibly when growing corn for ethanol.
posted in honor of Blog Action Day 2007.