Conventional farming versus organic farming is an unfair comparison. Hannie and I are organic fans. For us, organic is the only truth about food. We want conventional farming to convert to organic, and we want this NOW. Some very relevant questions need to be asked about conventional farming. We also need more organic converts.
Farmers, the agricultural industry, and many consumers believe that the conversion from conventional to organic agriculture is too complicated. Most people shy away from complicated, specifically when it comes to food. The responsibility is firmly put in the hands of the government. However, most governments make unfair comparisons between conventional and organic farming.
This is why we suggest that we better not wait for the food and agricultural policies to change to organic. We have to act now ourselves. We also have a responsibility.
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Table of contents
- 1 We want an agricultural policy change: NOW
- 2 Some relevant questions need to be answered
- 3 Banks determine agricultural policies
- 4 Do you trust your organic chicken?
- 5 We need more organic converts
- 6 Buy local
- 7 Conventional Farming versus Organic Farming: the Unfair Comparison
- 8 Low-cost program of organic food consumption
- 9 Moderation is the key
We want an agricultural policy change: NOW
What are the effects of our present food and agricultural policies? It is not easy to find a clear and comprehensible answer to this question. It is a time-consuming effort. No politicians, or governments, consistently do any effort to collect such information, let alone share it with the citizens.
The lack of a clear-cut and convincing political guidance makes many consumers very uncertain. Consumers have no idea which choices they should make themselves. Moreover, we ask ourselves: what choices do we have? What can we do?
We think that everybody can contribute to sustainable food and agriculture. However, despite the fact that we’re full of positive hope for the future, a more urgent approach would be more appropriate.
Some relevant questions need to be answered
The obvious problem that hampers consumers’ choices, is that consumers can only make a choice when they go shopping. In the supermarket, where most people buy their (fresh) fruits and vegetables, we get no immediate, or only very limited, feedback on what we buy.
On the open-air market, it’s even worse. There we don’t even get told where the produce comes from. One step, to more appropriate food and agricultural policies, is that we get answers to some relevant questions at the place where we buy our food.
To mention just a few of these questions.
- Has any pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide been used on (seeds of) the fruits and vegetables we buy?
- What has been the impact of the food on the use of water?
- What is the total amount of the energy used before we buy the food (including, the use of machines during harvest, cooling and cleaning etcetera)?
- Is an assessment made of the impact on biodiversity?
- Are all the labor conditions advocated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) respected? During production, and distribution, as well as selling?
- Did the farmers and the employees involved get properly paid?
Banks determine agricultural policies
Food and agricultural policy strategies are unclear for most people. These are always long-term policies. When they need to change, it takes quite some effort. The changes will only come in the very long run.
Take for instance the new EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The new CAP hardly changes anything in the food and agricultural policies of the EU. In the next 25 years, everything will remain as it has been for the past fifty years.
Most people put their trust, when it comes to food and agricultural policies, firmly in the hands of politicians. This is a mistake because politicians are not in control. Food and agricultural policies are determined by banks.
In most countries, only 1 or 2 banks determine long-term food and agricultural policies. As a consequence, there are only a very limited number of people that decide on these policies. Most of them are male and never visit a supermarket, let alone an open-air market, or a farm.
Do you trust your organic chicken?
A friend of ours asked how we could be sure the chicken we buy is truly organic. Our answer is that the only way to be relatively sure is when we would check the egg where the chicken came from. All organic eggs are numbered. Since organic chickens also come from eggs, which must be the result of the mating of an organic hen and an organic rooster, this must be the only way to be sure.
Of course, this is a typical egg-and-chicken-question. And a joke. As with all our food, we have to trust the labels. Because all certified organic food must be labeled, it’s easy to know what is organic and what not.
“Yes”, our friend said, “but there is so much fraud in organic food.” We don’t think so, because the concerns, for all those involved, are huge. However, the counter-question is of course: Do you trust a conventional chicken?
How many hormones have been injected into your conventional chicken? What is the impact of these hormones on your hormones? No conventional chicken explains whether it’s hormone-free. And the hormones are just one issue. Conventional chickens are not okay by definition.
We need more organic converts
With organic chickens, you may assume that these are okay. It’s the same with organic eggs. Anyway, it’s easy to recognize the difference between an organic and conventional chicken. Fry or cook the chicken, the size of the conventional chicken will shrink at least a third.
This is why it is so important that we as consumers make it an issue to show what we think of conventional food and agricultural policies. Moreover, we all should buy more and more organic. This is why we need more organic converts.
People who buy organic truly support healthy long-term food and agricultural policies. They also support their own health. And a healthy environment.
We buy our organic produce locally. There are small eco-shops in the village where we live and other villages in the neighborhood. Most of them started home delivery during the pandemic.
This was helpful during the lockdowns. They were allowed to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and transport it to their shop, and the homes of their customers.
The advantage of buying organic local, is that distribution and preservation costs are low. Moreover, the prices of the organic fruits and vegetables we buy are competitive to those of conventional food.
Conventional Farming versus Organic Farming: the Unfair Comparison
The price differences between organic and conventional food are the result of some very unfair practices. Conventional food destroys biodiversity, and the soil. It also pollutes our air and water. Future generations will have to pay for those damages.
Organic food must always be certified. Organic farmers, the organic food processing industry, and organic shops have to pay the certification bill. Of course, this bill is presented to the consumers. How else can these companies survive?
Conventional foods do not come with certification costs. Moreover, organic food has to be processed separately from conventional food. This drives up the costs, because the amounts of organic foods processed are small, compared to conventional food.
Low-cost program of organic food consumption
When we only compare the price we pay for one organic or one conventional apple, the difference may be substantial. We use, however, a way to control the costs of organic food without depriving ourselves of what we need.
We do not eat too much and never throw away any food. We only eat 100-150 grams of organic chicken, or turkey, or fish, a week. For most of us, that is enough.
We consume a well-balanced diet, dominated by fruits and vegetables. At the most, we eat 1 or 2 eggs a month. Our consumption of milk and cheese is also very limited. We never add any salt to the food we prepare.
The amount of bread, potatoes, pastas, and rice we eat is also limited. We don’t mix those with the fish, meat, or eggs we eat. We only eat twice a day, vary what we eat daily, and eat according to the seasons.
Moderation is the key
Organic food and health are related. Not being bothered by pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, in the long run, is good for our body. Whereas, the immediate effects of organic food on biodiversity are substantial.
Don’t forget that fresh food is usually healthier than meat and prepared food. Moreover, too many organic chips and organic cookies can raise our cholesterol to the same unhealthy levels as with conventional processed fast food.
Your personal conversion to eating organic food is very simple: moderate your food intake. This is the key element to good health, and sustainable food and agricultural policies. When you keep up our low-cost program of organic food for a couple of months, the money you spend on your food bill will remain the same. Moreover, your body and conscience will feel much better.
Please, share your ideas of the unfair comparison between conventional and organic farming with us in the comment box below.