Voices 05/04/2010

Organic is not so green

Organic is not so green
A challenge that arises from the awareness that the media perception is that organic farming is the solution to restore our poor planet.

Healthier food and especially focus on the environment to a marked reduction of greenhouse gases and pollution in general.

We arrived here sharing and acceptancing of a myth.
If everyone were vegetarian and eating organic fruits and vegetables the world would be a better place.

Really if everyone became vegan and so ate only fruit and vegetables, then the reduction in greenhouse emissions for the whole of food consumption would be a mere 7%. The widespread adoption of vegetarianism would have even less impact, while organic food production actually leads to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Those are the conclusions of a research paper published in the journal Progress in Industrial Ecology.

Helmi Risku-Norja and Sirpa Kurppa of MTT Agrifood Research Finland, working with Juha Helenius of the Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki, explain that for current average food consumption, in Finland, emissions from soil represent 62% of the total emissions. Greenhouses gases released by cows and sheep account for 24%, and energy consumption and fertiliser manufacture about 8% each.

The greenhouse emissions performance for extensive organic production is poor, despite this approach to farming being considered the "green" option, the lower efficiency requires the cultivation of greater areas of soil, which counteracts many of the benefits.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through food consumption would require large-scale changes among the entire population.

A goal impossible, impractical and unrealistic.
It is therefore necessary to change approach and shift the focus towards a more responsible approach to purchasing, packaging and many small daily habits that can most significantly affect the reduction of pollution.

For example sustainable consumption might be possible by introducing services to substitute for material consumption. Although food itself cannot be substituted, a lot can be done at the household level to improve sustainability of food provisioning and reduce food wastage.

di Alberto Grimelli