Top Ten Reasons why organic growing makes a difference

When you grow or buy certified organic food and products, your actions and dollars cast a vote for a healthier planet because organic agriculture and processing practices...

1) Protect the health of future generations

The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choices parents make today will impact their children's health tomorrow.

2) Protect water quality

Water makes up two-thirds of our body mass and covers three-quarters of the planet. Despite its importance, the EPA estimates that pesticides contaminate ground water in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country's population. Organic growers and processors use practices that eliminate polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, and thus protect and conserve precious water resources.

3) Builds and protects top soil

The Soil Conservation Service estimates that over 30 billion tons of topsoil are eroded from U.S. crop lands annually. The cause? Intensive mono-cropping (the planting of vast areas with the same crop year after year) and environmentally insensitive farming practices. The results? The worst topsoil erosion in history. Soil is the organic farmer's most revered tool. Rather than relying on synthetic fertilizers, they build their soil through natural amenities, such as composted manure, and by planting diverse crops. Organic farmers respect the soil and view it as the foundation of the food chain.

4) Must meet stringent standards

Organic certification standards are the public's assurance that their food and products have been grown and handled according to strict sustainable procedures without persistent toxic inputs. Consumers can find a diverse spectrum of certified organic products on supermarket and department store shelves, from snack foods to outdoor clothing. "Certified organic" is the consumer's best assurance for organic authenticity.

5) Reduces potential health risk

Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Now, the EPA considers 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides, and 30% of all insecticides as potentially cancer causing. Organic farmers use only natural methods of pest control.

6) Preserves biodiversity

The loss of a variety of species (biodiversity) is one of our most pressing environmental concerns. Many conventional farms still grow hybridized vegetables and fruits, bred for uniformity, ease of shipping and cosmetic appearance. Such "modern" concerns have ignored the value of preserving a diversity of seed varieties, and therefore a more balanced ecosystem. Many organic growers have been collecting and using heirloom seed varieties for decades.

7) Keeps communities healthy

The USDA studies indicate that in the year 2000, half of the U.S. farm production came from only 1% of farms. Organic farming may be one of the few survival tactics left for the family farm and rural communities. Many organic farms are independently owned and operated and have less than 100 acres.

8) Protects the health of farm workers

While pesticides may pose a health risk to consumers, the risks are far greater for field workers. A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had a six-times greater risk than non-farmers of contracting one type of cancer. Field workers on conventional farms, due to their direct exposure, are the most vulnerable to illness as a result of pesticide use. Organic farms eliminate that risk by eliminating harmful pesticides and other chemical inputs from their practices.

9) Represents a "true" economy

Organically grown products may seem more expensive, but mere retail prices are deceptive because conventionally raised and priced agricultural products represent only a fraction of the true cost. Current prices for conventionally grown foods do not reflect the costs of federal subsidies to conventional agriculture, the cost of contaminated drinking water, loss of wildlife habitat and soil erosion, or the cost of the disposal and clean up of hazardous wastes generated by the manufacturing of pesticides. Consumers can pay now or pay later. When you buy organically grown products you pay now for a more sustainable environment.

10) Makes food taste great

Top restaurant chefs across the country will tell you "organically grown foods taste better." Why? It's common sense -- well-balanced soils grow strong healthy plants which taste great. Plus, many conventional growers are still raising hybridized vegetables and fruits that are bred for uniformity, ease of shipping and cosmetic appearance - concerns that ignore the importance of flavor. Many organic growers collect and use seeds from heirloom varieties that, because of their superior flavor, have been passed down through generations of farmers. True flavors, like those from an organic, vine-ripened Brandywine Pink tomato or a crisp, organic, Gravenstein apple, are not just for chefs and fancy restaurants -- they are for everyone who cares about food.

Link to What's On My Food website that shows crop-by-crop test results for pesticides, herbicides and other contaminants that is on food. It shows the diffence between tests for conventional and organic foods, listing tested amounts of known carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors and more.