Organic Farming and Its Environmental Consequences

picture of a farm Voices from Knox County:

"Why is it that when somebody gets deathly sick with cancer or something, and a doctor recommends that they go on an organic diet? I think all these people know that there's a difference."

"If you get on a chemical system, the only way you can keep going is to keep adding more and more powerful chemicals. If you get on an organic system, it will perpetuate itself. You don't need to keep adding more and more fertilizer because it is a natural system. It's like the difference between paying interest on a loan and getting paid interest on your savings."

"It's a long hard struggle, because that transition period to get your farm away from chemicals and convert it back to a natural way takes at least four years."

"The nice part about organic is that it's economically viable, and the reason is that you don't have to spend a lot of money, because the Good Lord designed the cycles of nature in order to do it itself."

Organically certified crops must be grown on soil that has been chemical-free for at least four years. Organic livestock cannot be fed non-organic feed or administered any type of drug past a certain age. This style of farming is the most radical form of conservationist farming in Knox County. The number of farms in Knox County is small, but they have produced yields competitive with non-organic fields. Organic farmers advocate their produce as a healthy alternative to chemically grown foods. Interest in organic food has remained relatively stable among Knox County consumers. The higher price of organic food has continued to inhibit organic food's entrance into the mainstream. There has been a growing interest, however, among parents of small children.

Click here to see our chart summarizing the different farming styles.

photo credit: Jim Richardson, National Geographic, Dec. 1995

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