Have you ever wondered what the real differences are between conventionally grown foods and organically grown? Bite into a ripe juicy tomato and you can certainly taste the difference!
Beyond flavor though, many studies of organic produce have shown an increase in nutrients compared to the conventional equivalents. But that’s not all. How our foods are grown can affect the health of the soil, ground water, livestock and more.
Organic vs. conventional agriculture
Large-scale commercial farms use industry-wide standardized practices that make the business of agriculture similar to large industrial enterprises. Many of these farms use the practice of monoculture. The same crop is grown over a large area for a number of consecutive years. Fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals are then calculated and prepared for the monoculture crop’s growing season.
Livestock production also falls under the definition of commercial agriculture. We’ll look at raising livestock in a moment.
Small-scale organic farms care for the soil and the plants and conserve water by relying on biological pest control, diversity through crop rotation, compost and other natural practices. These traditional methods tend to enhance and maintain healthy soil for future crops.
The big business of commercial farms and livestock production has a devastating impact on the environment. Soil and water runoff can occur when the farm’s soil isn’t replenished with organic matter. The runoff often contains pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, chemicals and other toxins that contaminate our rivers, streams and ground water.
Factory farmed animals live most of their life in what’s called a CAFO or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. The use of antibiotics and hormones, as well as animal wastes, can also contaminate ground water. Just take a drive past a CAFO and you will quickly become aware of a dramatic reduction in air quality!
Soil and plant health
Organic farmers give much care to the soil. They know that healthy soil provides the plants with vitality and resilience.
When organic matter is used to feed the earth, not only does it reduce water run-off, but actually increases the ability of water to be retained. For instance, a 1% increase in organic matter allows an additional 18,000 gallons of water storage per acre!
Proper management of crop rotation and other traditional practices help to build topsoil. Mineral rich topsoil is alive with microbial life. Since plants don’t manufacture minerals, the friendly bacteria in the soil help the plants to absorb them. Feed the soil, which in turn feeds the plants that provide you with a bounty of minerals, including selenium necessary for glutathione production.
A bee in your bonnet
Since conventional farming practices include the use of chemicals, the soil is no longer friendly to earth worms and microbial life. The plants are not as resilient and are more prone to harmful pests which require the use of chemicals to save the crop.
Pesticides aren’t choosy; they can also kill friendly insects and bees. As you know, bees are wonderful pollinators. In fact pollination in some crops such as apples and almonds is 90% to 100% dependent on bees.
A more recent development in conventional farming is the use of GMO seeds (genetically modified organisms). These crops are often called Round-Up Ready, which as the name implies, means that even more pesticides can be used to control crop pests.
Animal, vegetable, mineral
Raising livestock with the use of conventional methods means that most animals are given feed that is foreign to their natural diet. Cattle rations are typically based on corn and other cheap commodity foods devoid of nutrients. Since foods unnatural to their bodies don’t digest well, cattle living in CAFOs often become sick. The use of antibiotics then becomes a necessity.
Cattle and other ruminants thrive when allowed to graze on grasses. Their unique digestive system turns mineral rich grasses into the proteins and fats needed to sustain them.
Here’s to your health
There’s a definite relationship between people consuming real organic foods and their health. The mineral levels in organic foods are typically higher than in foods that have been grown on depleted soil. There are numerous functions that minerals perform in your body. Minerals maintain the body’s pH balance, contract and relax muscles and act as co-factors for enzyme reactions throughout the body.
Another nutrient that is abundant in dairy and meat fats from grass fed animals is nearly completely absent in factory farmed animals. It is a special fatty acid called Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA. Considered a superfood, CLA is known for promoting cardiovascular health, its anticancer properties and its ability to help fight inflammation.
Organic bone both made from the bones of grass fed beef is a good way to increase intake of CLA. Bone broth provides a unique concentration of health benefits as well as being a rich and savory beverage.
Increase nutrition beyond organic
You can turn your organic vegetables into superfoods with fermentation. When you eat cultured foods you substantially increase your intake of friendly bacteria.
Whether you grow your own vegetables, buy them from your favorite farmer, or at one of about 8,000 Farmer’s Markets across the U.S., fermenting vegetables will aid your body to manufacture and activate vitamins. For best results we recommend using a starter culture for vegetables. Caldwell’s Starter Culture helps to give you consistently successful results.
If you don’t have the time to culture your veggies, or the patience to wait until they are ready, just choose from our range of Caldwell’s delicious ready-to-eat organic raw cultured vegetables.
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