13 Mar Choosing to Go Organic in Your Garden
by Zachary Turck, Horticultural Therapist and Instructor
Yes, the word “Organic” has become trendy, but it is far from a new method of gardening. “Conventional” gardening, which would more appropriately be called chemical gardening, is actually the modern adaptation. Organic gardening can be described as gardening with nature—chemical gardening is essentially warfare against nature. National standards for organic labeling are, however, fairly recent with the establishment of the Organic Foods Production Act of the 1990 Farm Bill.
Organic standards attempt to encourage biological activity and ecological harmony while minimizing pollution and off-site inputs to the garden. Organic gardens, plants, and foods should, by law, contain NO:
- a) growth hormones
- b) antibiotics
- c) synthetic pesticides
- d) synthetic fertilizers
- e) sewage sludge
- f) they should never be genetically engineered
- g) they should never be irradiated
ACCORDING TO THE NUMBERS, YOU ALREADY PROBABLY AGREE
The plants, produce, herbs, nuts, and spices you buy that are not organic most likely experience one or more of the above unnatural treatments. It is obvious that we would not want to put sewage sludge or growth hormones into our bodies by ingesting contaminated food—hence the movement towards organic produce. Why all food products don’t abide by these standards is a little perplexing, but then again so is the sustained popularity of Gordon Ramsay. A recent political opinion survey by The Mellman Group, as well as a healthcare survey by Thomson Reuters, found that about 90% of Americans favor labeling genetically modified foods1; yet the House of Representatives recently passed Rep. Mike Pompeo’s “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014”—dubbed the “DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act” by food justice advocates—which would NOT require genetically modified foods to be labeled. (There’s still time to take action to prevent this: contact your elected officials and let them know you want to know what’s in your food!)
REAP WHAT YOU SOW
Gardeners are not in the science lab splicing genes, but we do have the power to choose whether to sow a genetically modified seed or not. As gardeners, we should ask ourselves: do we really want to invest in any plant or garden product that is unnatural and probably even harmful to the ecosystem? Honey Bee colonies are collapsing, Monarch Butterfly populations are dwindling, and it is completely credible that this is due to mankind’s historically recent adoption of “conventional,” or chemical, gardening practices. More gardeners are growing aware of these issues and transitioning to more organic methods, even if they are not edible gardeners.
Stay tuned for part two: “Detoxing Your Garden: Steps to Going Organic”