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Play in the Wild! is committed to the practices of Being Nonviolence. We believe that eating, growing and supporting organic food is nonviolence to self because it nourishes our body’s health; nonviolence to our communities because it supports farmers to live well and contributes to the health of others; and nonviolence to all life because it cares for the well-being and future of people, land, rivers, and animals for generations to come. Because of this, all of the food we offer on our programs is organic, with rare exceptions – and much of it is grown on our Farm and Gardens at Wild! Heart Refuge. To understand how we came to this decision and to address some common misconceptions about organic food, we offer the following Frequently Asked Questions:
What’s the difference between organic and conventional food?
Conventional food uses synthetic or chemical herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, irradiation,genetic modification, and hormones in the production of food. Organic food is produced without these chemicals, synthetic ingredients or bioengineering. Organic food is produced using practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony that have been producing and supplying food for millions on the planet for thousands of years.
Isn’t organic some rich hippie thing?
Before the 20th century, ALL food was grown organically. The history of organic food/agriculture can be traced back literally thousands of years. The history of “conventional” food is less than one hundred years old. Organic farming is the original/traditional way to farm.
Why did people stop growing organically?
The belief was that using chemical treatments in producing crops and growing animals for consumption increased the amount of food a farm could produce, so more people could be fed. Also, new industrial and agricultural jobs were created to support this way of growing food.
So, what’s so bad about conventional food?
In the early 1970s, some agricultural experts came to realize that chemicals used to produce conventional food were having a seriously negative effect on both the environment and on people’s health. Even as early as 1924, the British botanist Sir Albert Howard believed that traditional Indian farming practices, which he studied for 20 years in Pusa, Bengal, were superior to his conventional agriculture science. Today, rather than increasing the amount of food a farm can produce, many conventional farmers are finding that it now takes 5 to 10 times as much synthetic fertilizer as 20 years ago, just to get the same amount of crops, because the soil has deteriorated so much from the use of chemicals. Because of this, many experts fear a future global food shortage. Organic farming produces more food at less cost to the health of people and the planet, and ensures that we’ll have enough food for everyone long into the future.
Isn’t organic food really expensive?
Sometimes, but not always, organic food prices are higher at the supermarket. Buying organic directly from farmers is a cheaper way to go, plus you’ll know that all the money is actually going to the farmer, not to the supermarket or chemical companies. Also, grocery store prices do not include the hidden costs of that food. Unfortunately, organic farmers are now required to “certify” to prove they are organic which costs the farmer money and drives the cost of organic food up. One solution: grow your own organic food! It’s cheaper than buying it, and you’ll know exactly what’s in it. Conventional food is subsidized by university and industry research which hides the clean up costs necessary with pesticide pollution and contributes to substandard wages for farm laborers. Basically, conventional food is cheap if you ignore that your taxes are helping pay the chemical companies, your doctor bills are related to the chemical food you put in your body, the polluted rivers and land will have to be cleaned up at some point in the future, and the workers that helped grow your food may not have enough money to live on.
Find out more:
- Talk to organic farmers near you at your local farmers’ market (in the U.S., you can find them online at localharvest.org!).
- Search online for “organic food facts.”
- Read authors Alice Waters, Raj Patel, Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Vandana Shiva.
- Watch either “The Future of Food” or “Food, Inc.“, or check out Grocery Store Wars.