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Madison Marshall Elizabeth Powers ENC 1145 13 Nov 2013 Organic: Is It Worth It? Society manages to faze through many fads and trends throughout each decade. The eighties gave tribute to rock stars by showing off big hair, converses, and denim jackets. The nineties celebrated their childhood with roller blades, beanie babies, and boy bands. The turn of a new century brought about flash mobs, energy drinks, and MySpace, but what trend is going on around our culture today? Could organic farming be just a fad, or will it eventually take over the way we conventionally farm today? What exactly is the ruckus about over food that is grown organically, and why does it cost more than food that is grown conventionally? The real question is, is this price rise worth it? Consumption of organically grown food is continuously increasing due to consumers urge to seek foods that are perceived as healthier. Organic food is worth paying a higher price than non organic food because of proven health benefits and economic advantages. Even though organic farming has been around since the beginning of time, it has never had to be labeled as “organic.” During the majority of the 1900’s, farmers locally harvested and raised crops and animals to sell at the local market. People were not worried about additives and preservatives like they are now. Our society has replaced all of our “naturally” made food with processed products that we as consumers have no idea about. Most consumers would not know half the ingredients in an item if they were to just pick it off a shelf at the store. What happened to getting fresh milk right from a cow’s utter or frying deer meat after it is skinned from its hide? Consumers have lost touch of knowing what is in their food and what they are putting into their


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bodies. Within the past two decades, organic farming has become increasingly popular due to consumers being able to have a better sense of how their food is being handled and prepared. The United States Department of Agriculture has determined guidelines and standards for food to have the privilege of being stamped organic. To sell a food item as organic, the product must meet production and handling requirements as well as come from an organically certified place that does not use certain pesticides or synthetic fertilizer. Farmers are required to cultivate their soil to minimize erosion and increase nutrients without sacrificing their crops. Certain temperatures of the soil must be constantly monitored and regulated to maintain uniform throughout the guidelines provided. Animals that are organically raised must follow strict standards that immediately become effective by their second day of life. Their feed cannot contain any drugs or hormones to promote growth. The producers of these organic materials are strictly watched by the USDA to make sure all requirements are fully met (Mayo Clinic Staff p2). If the bigger picture is looked at, how are products grown and raised conventionally? Are there pesticides and drugs mixed in with our daily meats and vegetables? The problem is we do not know. Consumers are not following around our food products to watch every move they make. The standards that the USDA has set aside for organic foods help consumers know that what they are eating is healthy and safe. When faced with a hard decision, people may resort to making a list of pros and cons. Usually the determining factor is the choice with the most pros. Organic farming is highly beneficial to our society as a whole including the people that make it up and the environment they occupy. A study was conducted in India based on organic food benefits. The study proved that organic food increases the health and wellness in people and combats illnesses. A set if individuals associated with this study were required to replace their conventional diets with


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products that were organically raised and grown. Another group of individuals were required to go about their normal eating habits that did not include consuming organic products. The two groups of people were parallel in having the same amount of healthy boys and girls that were the same age to create the most unbiased sample sets. By the end of the study, the results showed the group that changed their diets to organic proved to have a stronger immune system (Chopra 4). Since organically grown foods follow strict USDA standards, you can be assured the foods you consume are well taken care of. Consumers do not have to worry about extra hidden additives or pesticides that companies fail to mention to us. Foods that are organically produced have been proven to have more nutrients and lower levels of pesticides (Zerbe 1). The amount of pesticides in foods is reduced because there are no chemicals being constantly sprayed on the foods that are grown. Also, the animals are not given extra hormones to speed up their growing process, so there are no harmful products that are injected into their bodies. Food industries that are conventionally processed regularly inject their animals with hormones hoping to increase productivity by decreasing the time it takes to harvest. This is like a human being injected with steroids. Humans are considered animals, so why is illegal for humans to take steroids to sped up their growing process and not the animals we actually put into our bodies? By cutting out the drugs we give to our animals, a product is created that is naturally safer to consume. Nutrient levels in organic products are increased because the soil is not fertilized with synthetics. The soil is usually fertilized with animal manure which is nature’s own fertilizer. Some nutrients are not always fully obtained when an animal eats a product. Those nutrients are digested and later defecated. The nutrients remaining in the manure are transported directly into the soil to enhance the growing process of the products to be harvested. Since the animals grew at their natural rate with no added enzymes, the manure they produce becomes richer than manure that is produced


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on a nonorganic farm. Without the standards created by the USDA, there would be no technical “organic� products, and the consumers would still have to live in fear of not ingesting clean food. The organic standards definitely create a natural and safer way of living for the animals and eating for the consumers. Organic products are usually local. When products are produced locally, a whole new door of benefits opens. Since these products are produced within a certain range, the environmental footprint of each product is drastically reduced. Products produced locally have been proven to travel at least one half less of the distance that a product that is not produced locally travels. This means the trucks that transport goods travel a lesser distance and emit a lower amount of harmful gases into the air. Also, if a product is grown or raised locally, it is in visiting distance. The consumer is able to visit the farm where their products are produced to self confirm they are making a knowledgeable decision by spending the extra dollar and buying organically. Buying locally also helps stimulate the economy in your certain city or town. Since consumers are buying from a local business, money is disbursed directly back into that community. If someone were to buy something that was not locally grown, they would be sending their money to another community and stimulating another economy other than their own. Most people would not mind sending an extra dollar to the local farmer down the road rather than a farmer that is 500 miles away. Since most organic products are produced locally, the environment, economy, and community as a whole benefits. Even though sales of organically grown products have been substantially increasing, there are always some people that are not okay with change. There are still ways to go around buying organic products and still receive a few of the benefits organic products have to offer. The author Brian Howards states that people should not have to pay extra money for a product just


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because a label says it is better. He states people can be healthier by simply eating more vegetables (Howard 6). While this is true, Howards fails to recognize that these vegetables may contain harmful pesticides or a heavy environmental footprint. More vegetables and less cheeseburgers and French fries to any diet results in a healthier lifestyle, but there are people that are solely unable to gain access to organic products. They may live in a rural town that does not carry organic products or are uneducated about the products in general so they do not understand what they are paying for. Some people may not be able to afford the prices of organic products. A study was conducted to explore and observe one’s eating habits in regards to organic foods. The study observed urban neighborhoods and rural areas. The results showed that particularly women in more pretentious urban neighborhoods consumed more organic products than people in rural areas. There were no correlation to the amount of organics consumed between Caucasians and blacks. The study concluded that more people would consume organic products if they were more accessible (Curl 8). People living in rural areas usually have a lower income than people living in urban areas. This causes people to settle for cheaper goods and be more hesitant to pay more money for something organically grown. While these people are aware of the health benefits, they would simply like to stretch their dollar as much as they can. Making these organic goods at more affordable prices would potentially raise a higher demand for the products. Conveniently, there are ways for these people that cannot afford organic good to substitute. Growing a vegetable garden is a good way to start on the path of organic eating. By growing your own garden, the consumer is fully conscious of what is put into the foods to be consumed. There are not any fertilizer trucks or helicopters sneaking by to spray your crops with potentially harmful pesticides. While this garden may not be USDA organic certified, the consumer has awareness of their foods’ makings. A home garden is not concerned with mass productions like


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conventional farms are. These farms usually have specialized sprinklers to spray the crops with harmful pesticides. The soil in a home garden may not be fertilized with nutritious animal manure, but the soil can still be fertilized naturally rather than with synthetic fertilizer. The consumer in this scenario also becomes the producer and cuts out the middle man. This ultimately lowers the overall cost because you do not have to pay anyone to process your food. Another way down the path to future organic eating is to eliminate the harmful elements in meats is by simply cutting out the fat. This will reduce the amount of animal hormones ingested because the fat is where most get stored (Reinke 6). By growing a simple vegetable garden or eliminating harmful sections of foods, consumers can be on the track to a healthier, almost organic, way of eating. Buying organic foods can be tricky. Marketers may try to trick consumers by using the word “natural,” so it is important to be smart and keep your eyes peeled. These foods marked “natural” may still obtain the price of organic foods, but they probably do not have the same benefits. Products are advertised this way to increase their sales in hopes of tricking consumers to thinking their products are organically certified when they are not (Zelman 6). When shopping for organic products, consumers have to be careful. Organic products used to have their own markets. Since the demand for organic products has substantially increased, organic products can be found in almost any store. This makes label checking highly important. True organic products that pass the certifications set by the USDA have an organic label on them. If there is no label certifying the USDA has approved the product of being organic, then it cannot be trusted. Farmers take pride in their organic farms, so they are well ahead of making sure their products have fully met the organic standards. Each farmer that owns an organic farm takes their time in making sure all their products are up to the guidelines so they will continue to get the privilege of


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owning an organic farm. Also, it is highly recommended to always buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season. If you are buying a product that is not in season you can be assured that it traveled a far distance, which means its environmental footprint has some extra mileage tacked on (Gold 5). By only buying products when they are in season you are killing two birds with one stone. The products have a relatively low footprint, and you are getting all the benefits that come with eating organically. It is important to always make sure your products have the organic seal on them before you buy. People may still wonder why organic products cost more than conventional products. There are several reasons, but some can be more obvious than others. The same concept is used with cars. Why does a Lexus or BMW cost more than a Volkswagen or Kia? People pay for the luxury. Organic can be viewed as a luxury. People will always be willing to pay more for something that is luxurious because it is something that not everyone is able to obtain. Organic products facilitate health benefits, which can be considered a luxury. Since not everyone can afford these luxurious products, people will purchase them to enjoy that privilege. Another way to look at the price difference between organic and conventional products is by elementary economics. Organic farms tend to be smaller than conventional farms. These farms yield fewer products than convention farms yield. Since there are less organic products produced than conventional products, the demand for organic products increases. While the demand for organic products increase, the price of these products increase as well. This produces the simple game of supply and demand. Whether you make look at organic prices as a luxury or as supply and demand, the still house all the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. The question of deciding whether organic products are worth the extra cost will always be given to every individual, but it is up to that person to make a pro and con list. It has been


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confirmed multiple times that the pros out organic products outweigh the one con of having a slightly higher price. Society has proven to usually choose the choice that will put in the least income to produce the greatest outcome. Spending a little more on food to create a healthier lifestyle parallels with that theory. If there was ever a time to jump on a bandwagon, this would be acceptable. Due to the confirmed health, environmental, and economical benefits organic products have obtained, it is worth the extra cost to buy organic over conventional.

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