Are organic products worth the higher price?

Organic yields can be improvedto. In a agricultural study in Pennsylvania which has been in existence for 43 years, organic yields have largely kept pace with conventional yields and have been as much as 30 percent higher during periods of extreme weather.

Verena Seufert, a sustainability scientist who focuses on agriculture at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany, said that while such yields are achieved “very rarely” in the real world, she is confident that things can change for the better with more research into organic management.

While some research show that soil on organic farms stores more carbon than soil on conventional farms, exactly how much carbon and for how long hotly debated.

That being said, healthy soil is crucial for long-term food security. Dr. Seufert hypothesizes that organic soils are more resilient to climate, but said not enough research has been done yet to draw “solid and convincing conclusions.”

If climate change is your only concern, scientists agree that the most impactful dietary choices you can make are reducing your consumption of animal products and wasting less food.

The scientists we spoke to all said they buy organic products. But they cited people, rather than the planet, as their main motivation: on organic farms workers are exposed to fewer pesticides.

“For me, that’s the key,” said Dr. Bowles. “The chemical exposure that comes with conventional farming is very, very real for the people involved in growing it. And that’s where I think organic has a very clear advantage.”

Organic food may also be better for the people who eat it. A 2018 study suggested that organic foods may lower your risk of cancer, although the American Institute for Cancer Research says that eating fruits and vegetables, organic or not, is what matters most.

Dr. Seufert also noted that organic farming can benefit the environment in important ways, such as improving biodiversity and water quality. Ultimately, she hopes that the rise of organics will force the industrial food system to consider environmental and human impacts, rather than just yield and profit.

“I don’t think we can save the planet by eating organic,” she said. “But I do think it’s an important part of the solution.”

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