New Study Shows Organic Farming Uses 40% More Land Than Conventional Farms
People are going crazy for organic food.
Food critics boast about the flavor of organic produce, while many in the fitness industry swear that eating organic will keep you young and healthy.
Organic markets and restaurants are springing up everywhere. In fact, the organic food market in America is now worth $35 billion a year. Organic food is all the rage.
But is it worth it?
This article isn’t going to touch on the supposed health benefits of organic produce—nor does it weigh in on whether or not it tastes better. Your columnist’s palate isn’t that refined.
Instead, I’m going to quickly look at environmental impact of organic food—there’s a steep downside here that environmentalists aren’t talking about. Namely: efficiency.
A new study written by Hanna Treu, of Humboldt University in Berlin, shows that organic food (in Germany) needed 40% more land to grow than conventional crops.
And ironically, both diets had equivalent carbon footprints (not that I care about carbon emissions, but it’s interesting to note for those on the left).
As it turns out, the biggest culprit in enlarging the agricultural space required wasn’t actually organic vegetables—which previous studies have found have at least 20% lower crop yields—it was organic meat.
Organic meat, particularly beef, requires significantly more land than do conventional operations. And this makes sense when you remember that said cows grow faster, are more likely to get sick, are smaller, and also need organic feed, which effectively multiplies their impact—now they need organic grass etc.
Also interesting is to note that the people eating organic in the study consumed 45% less meat than the control group—had they consumed an equivalent amount, the inefficiencies of eating organic would be even larger.
The modern diet is predicated upon enhanced agriculture. Go figure.
Here’s an interesting statistic: according to the figures in this study, if all wheat in the US were grown organically we would need to cultivate an additional 47,877 square miles of land—equivalent to the state of Mississippi.
This doesn’t include corn, or vegetables etc.
My point? Switching to organic agriculture would require us to completely destroy such vast areas of wilderness that the supposed environmental benefits would be outweighed by a mile—imagine how much forest we’d need to burn to make way for our new farms.
And of course, doing so would also make food outrageously expensive. This would hurt America’s poor—both financially and in terms of nutrition.
Organic food is simply not worth the cost.