Organic farming is the production of food in a way that promotes and protects the health of soil, plants and animals without using any chemical additives. It is the basis for mental, physical and ecological well being and contributes to environmental conservation. It produces pollutant-free and chemical-free, nutritious food for people.
The exact rules and laws on Organic Farming vary according to country or community law, and must be adhered to in order to achieve certification. The rules include limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to only those of natural origin (for example mineral copper sulfate). They also prohibit the use of Genetically Modified Organisms and require that crops must be grown in the absence of any chemicals for at least three years before they can be considered organic.
As a result, farmers must be vigilant and monitor their land to ensure that the soil is not compromised by any chemicals or pesticides from previous harvests. They must also ensure that their livestock is not fed any hormone enhancing products, as these are absorbed through the blood and then passed on to us in our meat and dairy produce.
The organic farmer will not soak seeds in a chemical solution, nor will they irrigate their fields with council water, which is normally chlorinated. Instead, they will rely on natural rainwater or harvested and stored rainwater to nourish their crops. Similarly, they will not kill any weeds by spraying them with herbicide, but will hand-weed the field or encourage the growth of a vigorous earthworm population to control weeds.
In addition, the organic farmer will not use any synthetic fertilizers, but will depend on natural compost or manure to replenish the soil and ensure its fertility. The organic farmer will use animal dung or humanure as an organic fertilizer, or they may choose to use natural rock minerals to replenish the soil.
The production of organic goods is more labor intensive than that of conventional farming, resulting in higher operating costs and lower yields. This is reflected in the price of these goods, which are generally more expensive to buy. However, there have been some studies which have shown that organic foods contain higher concentrations of certain nutrients, such as Omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish or milk, and antioxidant compounds in vegetables and fruit.
The Organic Farming method is being increasingly adopted worldwide, with more than 23 million hectares now being managed in an organic way. There are many different types of Organic food and drink on the market, and consumers can check that the product they are buying is genuine by looking for the organic symbol. If they cannot find this symbol, they should look for a label which complies with the strict European Union organic specifications. If they are not sure, they should ask the producer or retailer to provide them with a certificate of compliance. This should be displayed somewhere on the packaging of the product.