Growing Green: Benefits of Composting and Organic Foods
- Composting is best. Burning leaves and other yard wastes pollutes the air and can lead to uncontrolled fires. Leaf smoke can make breathing difficult for people who suffer from asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or allergies.
- Compost has the ability to help regenerate poor soils.
- Using compost can reduce the need for water, fertilizers and pesticides when gardening.
- Composting organic materials that have been diverted from landfills ultimately avoids the production of methane and unwanted leaching of compounds in the landfills.
- Compost helps prevent pollutants in storm water runoff from reaching surface water resources.
- Compost has also been shown to prevent erosion and silting on embankments parallel to creeks, lakes and rivers, and prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields and golf courses.
- Organic farming delivers the food produced without artificial chemicals or genetic modification, and with respect for animal welfare and the environment, while helping to maintain the landscape and rural communities.
- October 21, 2002 marked the official debut of the new USDA organic seal on food. The culmination of a 12-year effort by organic proponents, the new seal gives huge boosts to organic agriculture, and is a boon to consumers who prefer organic food.
- In the past decade, sales of organic products have shown an annual increase of at least 20 percent, the fastest growing sector of agriculture.
- When persistent and systemic pesticides are sprayed directly on our food before it is harvested (and sometimes afterwards), it inevitably turns up in our soil, rivers, ground water, on our plates and in our livers.
- 100% Organic Certification for a product ensures that there are no GMOs (Genetically Modified Foods) in that product.
- Conventional farmers use around 300 different pesticides to grow foods that are sold in supermarkets everyday.
- Not only do conventionally grown foods contain pesticides, they also often have chemicals added or used during processing – many in the form of additives.
- In the United States, it has been calculated that the total environmental and public health costs of pesticide use alone are about $3 billion to $4 billion a year - equivalent to almost $1 in external costs for every $1 of pesticide sold in the country. Globally, pesticide external costs are estimated to be as high as (US) $100 billion to $200 billion a year, equivalent to $5 to $10 for every $1 of pesticides sold.
- The off-site costs of soil erosion in the U.S. have been estimated at up to $20 billion a year, with more than one-third of this blamed on agriculture. U.S. cropland loses at least 3 billion tons of topsoil every year, making agriculture the single largest non-point polluter.
- Organic farming saves energy. Conventional farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry; consuming 12 percent of the country’s energy supply.
- Foods grown with conventional pesticides and fertilizers have a high environmental price hidden in the tax dollars used to clean up water contamination. As part of building healthy soil, organic agriculture uses conservation practices, such as planting cover crops or including buffer zones and wildlife areas. Those costs are an investment in the future.
- Buying organic supports small farms – most organic farms are small, independently owned and operated. In the past decade the United States has lost 650,000 family farms due to the large scale conventional farms that are taking over. Organic farming is making it possible for the family farm to survive.
- Organic farms support substantially higher levels of wildlife in lowland areas, particularly wildlife groups on the decline.
- The global organic food market was about $36.7 billion in 2006 according to Datamonitor. Over 30 percent of the global organic demand stems from the U.S., which has a market of about $13.6 billion, according to Nutrition Business Journal.
- Popular organic food items include organic tea, organic coffee, organic wine, organic meat, organic beef, organic milk, organic honey, organic vegetables, organic fruits, organic rice, organic corn, organic herbs, organic essential oils, organic coconut oil and organic olive oil.
Sources: United States Environmental Protection Agency, Down to Earth, www.organicfacts.net
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