The image of farm fresh vegetables and fruit represent fresh, wholesome, organic eating. The secret most bright red carrots and rounds of iceberg lettuce hide are the ways in which they were made. Conventional farming uses chemicals to treat the land and pesticides to protect the produce, but they high levels of toxicity they impart also increase the risk of cancers, and neurological diseases in developing in humans. Consuming chemically grown or treated food has made our immune systems weaker. Sustainable farming, on the other hand, is an eco friendly alternative. It’s also chock full of health benefits! At least, that’s what we hear. We wanted to know for sure: is organically grown food actually better for your mental and physical health? Is it worth replacing commercially grown food? Organic farmer Zain Shah of Zorganics visited us at the Mashion HQ to answer all your questions about sustainable farming, healthy eating, and organic food. Here’s what we learned!
1. Benefits Of Going Organic
When it comes to your diet, look beyond what you see on your plate. The growing process that vegetables undergo matter more than you think. How your food has been grown has a major impact on your overall health, as well as on the environment. This is where organic foods prove to be better than their conventionally grown counterparts. They are richer in nutrients, fresher (which also means they don’t last as long as treated vegetables), taste better, and gentler on the land. They’re free of toxic pesticides which can cause nerve damage, birth defects, cancer, and other health problem. Organic foods protect you from possibly contracting these deadly diseases. This is what made Zain a fan of organic foods to begin with. He said, “going organic enables us to better protect our eco systems, it’s more environment friendly, and also gives access to more nutritious and fresher produce.”
2. Natural Pest Killers
The disadvantages that come with using pesticides can’t be emphasised enough. However, pests ruining produce is a reality that needs to be dealt with. So how do organic farmers do it? The farmers research and implement natural pest control methods. Natural pest control methods usually rely on the use of natural resources. According to our expert, neem extract, ark, and tobacco are some of the most effective pest control methods.
3. Using Neem Extract As A Pest Control Method
Neem is an evergreen tree that can be used in a variety of different ways. It can be utilised medicinally, in cooking, or as a deterrent for pests in farming. The active ingredients of neem extract include a compound called azadirachtin, which is known to deter pests from feeding. Neem extract is mostly used for pest control against chewing and sucking insects. It’s also less expensive. Explaining the process of using neem extract as a pest control method, our expert says, “the first step is to pull leaves from the neem tree. We then boil them in hot water and let them cool down. Then finally we spray small amounts on herbs.”
4. Future Of Organic Farming
People have become more aware of the food they consume. Organic farming is fast on it’s way to being more mainstream and accessible to the masses, but some still consider it a trend. Despite increasing popularity, it’s still a niche market, which is what contributes go the relatively higher prices for organic goods. According to Zain, the market for organic growth produce is still very small, and still lacks awareness. But the fact that conventional farming is causing irreparable harm to the environment, and is absolutely unsustainable in the long run, can only be solved by a wide scale switch to organic farming in the future. Our expert believes that organic farming will take over eventually. He said, “I definitely see an increase in the demand of organic produce in the next couple of years.”
5. Shelf Life Of Organic Food
Commercially grown produce doesn’t compare to organic fare on multiple counts. Organic food is proven to be more nutritious, better in taste, and fresher. However, when it comes to shelf life, conventional produce beats organic. Since organic food is cleaner and free from the harsh chemicals which are used on conventional produce, it is not protected from the build up of bacteria, weather, and other threats to longevity. Zain agrees that organic food expires sooner. He says, “because we don’t use any chemical preservatives, the shelf life for organically grown produce is much shorter. However, it’s definitely fresher.”
6. What Makes Organic Farming Expensive?
You might think organic farming costs less than conventional farming since it doesn’t require any chemicals, synthetic pesticides, or antibiotics. Think again — while those chemicals might be bad for you, they get the job done faster and more efficiently. Meanwhile, organic farming requires more labour. This is why organic farms also tend to produce less than conventional farms. According to our expert, the higher cost of production, lower yields, and being labour intensive methods make organic farming more expensive.
7. Eat Kale The Right Way
Kale is a superfood that’s incredibly high in nutrients. It’s filled with fibre, which is integral to a healthier digestive system. The stems which people usually throw away, are actually stores of prebiotics — food for the probiotics in your micro biome. It is also high in iron, vitamin K, and other powerful antioxidants. Zains suggestions for eating kale — his favourite Zorganic product — include baking kale chips, and adding it to salads. It can also be used as an alternative to roti and can be eaten with daal.
8. Aim For Zorganics
Zorganics is currently a small scale, budding farm. It offers locally grown, fresh and seasonal produce by using sustainable farming methods. Talking about his dream for the future of Zorganics, Zain said, “the mission for Zorganics is to eventually grow into a 360 degree wellness centre, where we offer organic produce and livestock.”