How organic is organic food? There are certain standards in place that stipulate the use of chemicals in during the growing process, but the standards do not necessitate sustainable farming practices. As a result, the increasing demand of organic foods have had an increasingly detrimental effect on the environment.
Elisabeth Rosenthal writes about this issue in The New York Times. She includes different examples of the environmental impact which farmers cause, but she focuses mostly on the tomato growers in Mexico who are depleting aquifers at a rapid pace.
The problem is that the “organic” label is given out too easily. The standards should be more strict because sustainability is just as important as not using chemicals. Many farmers are utilizing practices that are simple unsustainable in the long run. Even though the purpose of creating the organic label was to encourage more natural farming practices, these practices are not environmentally responsible. As education in the production of food spread, more people were willing to buy organic products (which is good, but it’s now it’s hurting the land).
Creating sustainable farming processes is not exactly cost-effect in the short-run and farmers really have no incentive to do so if they are making money off of the methods that they are already practicing. There are many entities involved from growing the food on a farm to someone eating it for dinner, and there is a constant tug-of-war between them, as Rosenthal puts it. Producers have to have an incentive to use more sustainable means of production, and at the very least, the standards for earning an “organic” label need to be stricter.