Three Ways Buying Organic Helps the Planet

By Michelle Cowden


Sometimes it's hard for me to imagine that buying organic products actually makes a difference in the health of the planet at large. I am one of seven billion people on earth. Can one person really make a meaningful impact on the health and well being of our entire planet?

It's easy to get disheartened when confronted with the overwhelming and often depressing statistics we have about climate change, obesity and food shortage today. But when I begin to doubt, I remind myself that if everyone made the choice to be that one person who buys organic, collectively we could make a serious impact in sustaining the planet.

I choose to buy organic because I believe that one person can make a difference. When I buy organic, I increase the demand for sustainable farming methods, and over time, if there's enough demand, the industry will have to change to meet the needs of consumers.

If you find yourself feeling doubtful or disheartened, remember these three major ways buying organic can help support life on the planet:

1. Organic farming methods reduce the amounts of toxic chemicals in the environment.

By regulating the amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that can be used in agriculture, organic farming methods are better for both the planet and its people. According to the Organic Trade Association,

Organic agriculture reduces the overall exposure to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, and that are associated with health consequences, from asthma to cancer. Because organic agriculture doesn't use toxic and persistent pesticides, choosing organic products is an easy way to help protect yourself.

Buying and eating organic is just one contribution many of us can make to ensure generations behind us will continue to be able to have food to eat and a planet on which to live.

2. Organic farming methods preserve top soil.

Conventional agricultural methods -- which rely on pesticides, herbicides and many other harmful chemicals -- have been shown to reduce top soil at alarming rates. Throughout history, the rise and fall of entire civilizations has come down to famines caused by low-quality soil. In the past, when people wore out the land, they would move to a new area. With over seven billion people living on this planet, we can't do that anymore.

A 37-year study done near Spokane, Washington comparing two wheat farms found the conventional farm lost more than eight inches of top soil while the organic farm lost only two inches of top soil. It takes on average 100 years to generate one millimeter of soil. Think of how much top soil could be saved if all farms adopted organic methods.

3. Organic farming methods protect our water supply.

Because organic farming seeks to maintain a balance of microorganisms in the soil, farmers use composted manure and other natural materials, rather than petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers can not only disrupt the balance of nutrients in the soil, they can also result in chemical runoff that pollutes local water supply and creates "dead zones" in larger bodies of water.


The more I read about the benefits of organic farming, the more I am amazed at the earth's ability to renew itself when given the opportunity. We can continue to have a great planet for coming generations -- all we have to do is treat the earth with kindness and respect, just like we should our personal bodies.

When we choose organic products, we not only take care of our personal health, but the health of our planet, too. Think of the power all of us have to make a change. If each of us made the decision today to buy mostly organic, mostly local and mostly whole foods, we can make a difference.

I encourage all of you to try to buy at least one organic product each time you go to the store. Just think what kind of impact we could make on the planet if all seven billion of us did this.

Note: This article represents the views of the author, and not necessarily those of Intent or its sponsors.

Michelle Cowden has been writing and advocating for healthy lifestyle for over six years at her blog As a licensed clinical social worker, she knows all too well the importance of finding healthy balance in life. Michelle believes that in order to live a healthy life, you must embrace the whole person, not just your mind or body. She has facilitated trainings on the effects of food and behavior at conferences and universities nationwide, and balances her work life with spending time with her husband and dog. She enjoys rock climbing, cycling, and yoga, activities that help her cultivate more balance and inner peace.

Photo credit: Nick Harris1

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