There has been a growing debate on which way the world should turn to, whether towards growing organic or conventional food. This has been brought about by the changing trends in consumer choice. Some people prefer organic food over conventionally grown one and vice versa. Organic food refers to food grown using natural methods (Givens, 2008). In this method natural fertilizers e.g. manure, are applied. Crops are not sprayed using pesticides, but rather farmers use beneficial pests or other natural ways e.g. mulching, to manage weeds. On the other hand, conventional food is grown by use of artificial fertilizers to promote growth; insecticides are sprayed to lower pests and herbicides to kill weeds. In this paper the various benefits associated with each type of food are discussed.
When one walks to a supermarket or a food store, he/she is likely to find fruits, vegetables, and dairy products labeled as either organic or conventionally grown. These agricultural products look similar and one is always in a dilemma on which type to pick. According to “Food Safety”, even the nutritional level of both types of food is similar. The difference lies with the methods applied to promote their growth. According to Walters, organic foods are safer and healthier as compared to conventional foods (Walters, 2009). This is because in their growth, farmers growing organic foods apply neither artificial fertilizers nor chemicals to spur the crop’s growth.
Organic farmers employ various methods to control weeds, some of these methods are: mulching, which involves laying covering of organic materials around plants so as to prevent erosion and retain moisture. Another method is removing the weed by use of hands or by tilling. All these methods ensure the crops grow without coming into contact with artificial chemicals. The major problem posed by organic farming is the high production cost, especially when such foods are required in large quantities. Application of natural ways tends to be cumbersome and time-consuming. These plants may also take longer time to mature than conventional crops.
Conventional farming also involves modifying the genetics of the plant so as to improve productivity and reduce time taken by the plant to mature. Due to the continued growth in population, many countries are now turning to Genetically Modified Foods (GMO’s) so as to meet the high demand of food. There has been a lot of criticism on the safety of GMO’s with independent researchers differing with institutional researchers on possible health problems associated with this food. Use of conventional methods such as applying artificial fertilizers and use of herbicides has facilitated high produce which can feed large population especially in countries faced by frequent drought. Through scientific modifications, more crops are adapting to various environmental conditions hence enabling more land in arid areas to be put into farming. Another advantage of conventional food is that it lasts longer than organic food; this is because it has preservatives in it. Resources required to produce conventional products are less compared to organic products, this has enabled them to be produced in bulks hence cutting on the production cost.
The advantages of convectional food surpass those of organic food on few areas with the major advantages being the low production cost and ability to produce in bulk. It should be noted that conventional food farming is the most popular form of farming practiced all over the world. Production levels of conventional farming are far high as compared to organic farming. This has resulted in low food prices affordable to people of all classes. Although organic food is a bit expensive, it offers more health assurance as compared to conventional food. Some researchers have established that organic food has high antioxidants due to lack of additives in their growth (Health benefits of organic food). Also the food is free from any harmful chemicals. Environmentalists have over time praised organic food as it is eco-friendly; it helps reduce soil and water pollution. This has ensured that the quality of soil is maintained and water bodies are not contaminated with chemicals which might pose a danger to the aquatic life.
According to Kukathas, 10% of consumers shop for organic foods; 20% shop for conventional foods while 70% shop for both. Those who shopped for organic food were all 40 years and above, and 90% were vegetarians (Kukathas, 2009). Kukathas further tells that some correspondents argued that, despite the high prices of organic food, they preferred it over conventional food because they believed it is healthier and posed no problems on their future health. Others believed eating organic food lowered their susceptibility to chronic diseases and cancer as they age. 60% of those who shopped for conventional foods said that they preferred them because of their good taste and affordable price with 40% of them confessing that if it were not for the high prices of organic foods then they would shop for them. Most of those who fall on either type of food thought all food was similar and while shopping gave less attention to whether it was organic or conventional (Kukathas, 2009).
In conclusion, both types of food i.e. organic and conventional food play important roles in meeting the high demand of food for human and animal’s survival. Conventional foods is usually in plenty, available and affordable, while on the other hand, though it is scarce and expensive, organic food offers more health benefits. With many people turning to healthy eating, demand for organic food has increased tremendously over the past few years.
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