Organic Farming: Its History and What it Means to You

Once Upon a Time, all Farming was Organic.

Farming was simply farming before the Second World War. In the 1920s, all agriculture was organic because all crops were grown without the use of pesticides. Sadly while researching the use of nerve gas as a weapon of war, scientists discovered the gas also killed insects.

NERVE GAS, intended to sicken and kill enemies and cause lasting physical damage to the human body, unsurprisingly killed insects. So why not use similar chemicals on food crops? If you’re not already freaking out, it gets worse.

In 1939, Paul Muller developed DDT, the first of a new class of insecticides during scientific research on nerve gas. Pests were no longer a problem on farms. Terrific! Chemicals were applied everywhere like sugar on a donut, and boom, so-called “organic farming” became a thing of the past.

Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1960. This book opened many people’s eyes to the hazards of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, fertilizers, and weed killers. (It was called “silent spring” because songbirds stopped singing near farms to avoid the chemicals.) I have observed this on my organic farm. In the fall after harvest, my fields look like a scene from the movie “Birds”. Huge flocks of birds fly in to eat the wastes of harvest, The “conventional “ fields that surround mine are empty.

Slowly people began to realize that something was causing more cancer, lung diseases, infertility and birth defects, autism, obesity and other diseases in spite of advancements in medical care. We questioned why as children we didn’t see these diseases especially in young people. As some of us became more interested in our health and green living, demand began to grow for foods that were not contaminated with chemicals and not genetically modified.

Now organic products are readily available. Organic products are all over your local supermarket and on the internet. Why should you “buy organic?” In addition to the nerve gas issue, there are some other things to consider …

Produce labeled organic are grown without using pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients. According to the National Academy of Sciences, 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed “safe.” That means, if you eat enough non-organic food, you have no idea of the long-term effects of eating these toxins.

Organic animal products are free of growth hormones and antibiotics. Consuming meat filled with hormones and antibiotics can have serious side effects, like “early onset of puberty, a growth of tumors, heightened cancer risks, and genetic problems.” Unnecessary antibiotics ingested through food can also cause your body to develop an immunity to treatment when you actually need it.

Organic produce is GMO-free: a requirement for certification (creating GMOs and certification process will be in another post.). Plus, organic farming focuses on treating the soil as a living organism—adding nutrients as needed and caring for it so that it grows plants in their natural state, versus conventional farming that uses synthetic fertilizers. I hope I didn’t scare you, but it is important to know why “organic” exists and why organic produce and protein can be necessary to a healthy lifestyle. Next time you go to the grocery store, consider the evolution of farming in America and know why organic has become such a huge and integral part of modern consumption.