(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2012) Add “Creates American Jobs” to your list of reasons to buy organic. According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), producing U.S. foods organically creates thousands more jobs than if that food were produced using dhemucal-intensive agricultural methods. The OTA report, “2010 Impacts of the U.S. Organic Foods Industry on the U.S. Economy,” shows the organic food industry generated more than 500,000 American jobs in 2010, and builds on data revealing the overall U.S. organic market in 2011 surpassed $31 billion for the first time. Beyond Pesticides continues to advocate through its Eating with a Conscience website for consumers to choose organic because of the environmental and health benefits to consumers, workers, and rural families.
“This report sends a strong message that doing what’s good for the environment and what’s good for industry economics are not mutually exclusive,” said U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA). “The organic food processing industry is creating jobs, stimulating our economy, and delivering the products that consumers increasingly demand. This report is only the latest testament on why supporting organic is a no-brainer.”
The report shows that for every $1 billion in retail sales of organic products, 21,000 more jobs were created throughout the economy. In addition, the use of organically produced ingredients resulted in the creation of 21 percent more jobs than would have been generated if the food industry had relied solely on conventional farms for its ingredients. The study compared labor and input use on a wide range of conventional and organic farms, and attributed the job-creation differences largely to greater labor intensity on organic farms, smaller farm size, the need for an organic certification industry, and reliance on smaller retail outlets.
Of course, most people choose organic because of its health and environmental benefits. Organic food contributes to better health through reduced pesticide exposure for all and increased nutritional quality. In order to understand the importance of eating organic food from the perspective of toxic pesticide contamination, we need to look at the whole picture ””from the farmworkers who do the valuable work of growing food, to the waterways from which we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. Organic food can feed us and keep us healthy without producing the toxic effects of chemical agriculture.
Aside from contamination issues, conventional agricultural practices have contributed to climate change through heavy use of fossil fuels ””both directly on the farm and in the manufacturing of pesticides and fertilizers”” and through degradation of the soil, which releases carbon. The depletion of soil organic carbon (SOC) through conventional farming has not only released carbon into the atmosphere, it has also limited the fertility and water holding capacity of soils worldwide. The adoption of organic methods, particularly no-till organic, is an opportunity for farming both to mitigate agriculture’s contributions to climate change and to cope with the effects climate change has had and will have on agriculture. Good organic practices can both reduce petroleum dependency and provide carbon sequestration in the soil.
Take Action: You eat organic to protect your health, your children’s health, and the health of the environment. Don’t assume that organic will continue to be what you want it to be without your involvement! Please write in by May 3 so that USDA regulators understand your positions. The list of issues that are now being considered is on our Keeping Organic Strong webpage.