RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—There are many compelling reasons to buy organic food whenever you can—to keep harmful pesticides and fertilizers out of our food, air, water, and soil, for one. And then there's the fact that organic agriculture can mitigate global warming: It traps carbon in the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. However, when Rodale Inc. CEO Maria Rodale traveled the country to interview farmers, environmental health experts, and government officials for her new book, Organic Manifesto, she unearthed other important, if less obvious, upsides to choosing organic food. Supporting organic isn't just about protecting the environment; it involves economics, human health, and cutting government waste that costs taxpayers major bucks.
Here, five surprising reasons that you, your family, and our planet will be better off if we all buy organic whenever possible:
• Taxes will go down. Why are our taxes so high? One reason is that our tax dollars are subsidizing the chemical-agriculture industry, which artificially reduces the price of food while increasing our health and environmental problems (thus increasing the amount of money the government needs to spend on environmental cleanup and health care). Why do politicians perpetuate this problem? If people can buy cheap food, then they are more likely to keep on voting for them. Who gets rich? Chemical companies. Certainly, everyone wants food to be affordable for all. But wouldn't it be better to stop putting our money in chemical agriculture's pocket and spend it instead on better food?
• Organic can feed the world. Maybe you've seen biotech advertising campaigns insisting that we need genetically manipulated seeds in order to feed the world. But the truth is, organic-farming yields are actually higher than chemical-farming yields, according to a 2008 United Nations report. In fact, in years of drought (and many parts of the world are experiencing unprecedented droughts), plants raised using organic methods do much better because of the plants' stronger root systems, and because the living beneficial microorganisms in the soil act like a sponge, retaining more moisture for longer periods of time. Chemical agriculture kills off those organisms, by the way.