Sunshine Natural Food & Grocery | Grants Pass, OR

Reasons To Eat Orgainc Food

Organic Soil Makes Healthy Gardens

By Rob Pell

 Spring is here! We all made it through another winter and are  beginning to enjoy the longer days and sunshine. Serious gardeners among us have been busy for weeks or months doing their thing. Fair-weather farmers, like me, have just started pulling weeds with our soft, indoor hands. For people who are just planning this year’s garden, I urge you to seriously consider the advantages of gardening organically. The benefits are many and include: more nutritious food, crops that better adapt to weather extremes and a healthier, safer environment for animals and humans.

 Probably the biggest misconception about growing organic vegetables is that many people mistakenly believe that the only thing organic farmers and gardeners do is forgo the use of toxic chemical herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. However, that’s only one small part..

Exhausted soils cannot grow healthy, nutrient-rich food, so the real work of organic growers is the building and nurturing of strong, healthy soil.using organic composts, cover crops and manures. The nutrient values of harvested food are linked primarily to the biological activity of the microbes, organic matter, and mineral composition of the soil, along with the genetics and quality of the seeds.
healthy, strong soil leads to healthy, strong crops. Healthy, strong crops, lead to healthy, strong people. Real health insurance should
start with reestablishing and protecting healthy soil.

Government authorities have been aware of this problem for over 70 years. Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.” A U.S. Senate report written, amazingly, back in 1936 stated: The alarming fact is that foods—fruits, vegetables and grains—are now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contains enough of certain needed minerals. These foods are starving us–no matter how much of them we eat!”

The soil is the largest living part of our planet’s ecosystem. It’s estimated that the weight of the microbial life within the top layer is greater than the combined weight of all other organisms on the
planet. Further, it’s been said that: “These microbial life forms are the engines of topsoil and critical to the production of nutritious food.”

During the last 50 years, short-sighted, profit-driven farming methods have greatly contributed to the destruction of over 50% of the topsoil needed for food production. Extensive topsoil has been lost through the overuse of synthetic fertilizers, erosion and farming practices that deplete soil nutrients. Agricultural decisions made for economic reasons alone are proving disastrous.

When considering health and environmental issues, long range thinking is paramount. The Iroquois Indian philosophy of 7 generation sustainability posits that it’s appropriate to
think seven generations ahead and decide whether decisions made today would benefit children seven generations into the future.
“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh
generation…even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

In addition to producing more nutrient rich food, strong soils can also produce resilient plants that are less suseptable to enviromental challenges. Results from the 30-year Farm Systems Trial conducted by The Rodale Institute in rural Pennsylvania demonstrated that organic corn yields were 31% higher than conventional farming yields in years of drought. These drought year yields are especially remarkable when compared to genetically engineered “drought tolerant” varieties which saw increases of only 6% to 13% over conventional (non-drought resistant) varieties. Plants grown from healthy soil are also more resistant to pests.

Conventional gardens and farms systems rely heavily on highly toxic pesticides.
Those pesticides are by name, definition, and purpose, designed to kill. Humans living in farming areas are often exposed to significant amounts of dozens of different pesticides not only in their food but in the air and groundwater as well, it’s inescapable. Organic practices completely eliminate those hazards.

There is ample evidence that foods grown from rich organic soil are more nutritious.
In addition organic farm and garden practices are safer for all aspects of the environment. All living creatures  and ecosystems benefit from sustainable organic growing practices- from the soil microorganisms and earthworms, to our children, grandchildren and
pets. Thinking for now, and for 7 generations into the future,
why would you farm or garden any other way?