Organic farming is the way to improve nutrition and restore the soil
Published 11:12 am Thursday, August 13, 2009
To the editor:
A July 2009 review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that 55 studies conducted since 1958 fail to show a significant difference in the amounts of eight of 11 nutrients in organic versus conventional food.
The news media reversed the meaning of this finding to leap to the conclusion that industrially produced food is as nutritious as organic.
Even putting aside the toxins that adulterate industrial food (pesticides, genetically modified organisms, growth hormones, antibiotics, and fertilizers made from chemicals or sewage, to name just a few), the conclusion that organic is not more nutritious belies common sense.
Nutrition comes from the soil. Industrial agriculture depletes soil. Organic agriculture makes the soil richer. Soil degraded through industrial farming produces less nutritious food. Soil enriched through organic farming produces more nutritious food.
In North America, industrial farming practices have depleted 85 percent of the mineral content of the farmland.
Every 28 years, 1 inch of topsoil is lost to industrial farming. Of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines.
In contrast, organic farming can produce six inches of topsoil in as little as 50 years.
The Organic Center found that 97 studies conducted since 1980 show that organic food contains, on average, a 25 percent higher concentration of 11 nutrients than conventional food. (New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods, www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/5367_Nutrient_Content_SSR_FINAL_V2.pdf)
As organic farming becomes more established, it will become increasingly clear that there is no more efficient and sustainable way to restore and improve the nutrition of farm products than to enrich the health of the soil through organic farming.