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Choosing Organic Food For a Smaller Carbon Footprint

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“Just one 800-acre farm that’s organic is the equivalent of 117 cars being taken off the road, or 1,462,500 miles not being driven!” That’s the conclusion of Chris Hill and Greg Bowman, contributors to the website NewFarm .org of the Rodale Institute, which has done extensive research on the impact of conventional and organic farming.

It seems that buying organic food – be it oranges, carrots, soybeans or lentils – can be an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and live green. That’s because organic farming is a powerful atmospheric scrubber. By growing various crops, organic plants are better able to bind carbon. Otherwise, they serve as a carbon sink.

But why is growing organic food better at carbon sequestration than growing food conventionally with fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides? Over the course of their 23-year comparison of organic and conventional corn-soybean cropping systems, the following conclusions were drawn:

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o Retention of organic material: A general rule of thumb in agriculture is that the more organic matter retained in the soil, the more carbon is sequestered. Organic farming typically uses animal manure and cover crops as a means of soil improvement; Conventional farming, on the other hand, uses chemicals that break down the organic matter present in the soil. Pound for pound, organic farming adds rather than removes soil organic matter and therefore helps sequester carbon.

o Lower fuel consumption: Due to less reliance on heavy machinery, organic farming systems use about a third less fossil fuel compared to conventional farming systems. This reduced dependence on fossil fuels translates into fewer greenhouse gases being used to grow the same amount of food.

These two factors make a great climate solution. If the US were to join the Kyoto Protocol, they could even achieve 73% of their proposed targets by converting every 160 million acres of arable land for corn and soybeans to organic farming! That would be like taking nearly 60 million cars off the road.

So in addition to the better taste and taste of organic food higher nutrient content, Organic Food Can Help You Lower Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions! Buying organic produce at the grocery store is therefore a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

If you want to further improve your environmental impact, grow your own organic food using compost, natural fertilizers and soil amendments! This is an inexpensive way to get your daily nutrients and a fun activity for the whole family.

Thanks to Laura Klein

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