Earth Watch: Organic Good for You and the Planet!

2021 has been a doozy, but no matter how much bad news we are bombarded with, there is always good news to be found. As we draw closer to the end of this year, we’d like to celebrate research published throughout the past year that highlights the benefits of organic food and agriculture. Research that continues to prove organic is always the best choice—for the health of you and your family, the economy, and the planet—and we think that’s something to celebrate!


Earth Watch: Organic Good for You and the Planet!

Organic farming uses fewer pesticides, reduces dietary exposure on produce

In contrast to conventional farming, organic farming relies more on natural processes than chemicals to manage and prevent pests and diseases. A new study published in the journal Agronomy shows that this difference in management significantly reduces risks of dietary and environmental exposure to toxic chemicals, and transitioning merely 1.2% of cropland used to grow fruits and vegetables to organic production is needed to make an impact on dietary exposure to harmful pesticides. 

Higher cognitive function is linked to eating organic food as a child

Brain development and cognition is influenced by environmental factors and the most formative time occurs before birth and during childhood. A unique study recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution found that organic food intake during childhood was associated with higher cognitive function. The study examined 1,298 mother-child pairs and the children were ages 6–11 years old. Overall, the study found a strong connection between childhood food sources and cognitive function, where organic food intake was linked with higher fluid intelligence and higher working memory.

Greenhouse gas emissions lower in organic wheat production than conventional

A study published in Soil Science Society of America Journal shows that organic farming emits fewer greenhouse gases and has lower global warming potential than conventional farming. The study system consisted of winter wheat under a five-year rotation with leguminous crops including alfalfa and lentils. The organic system incorporated livestock for weed and soil fertility management, and omitted all chemical inputs, while the conventional system managed weeds and pests with chemical sprays and used nitrogen fertilizer to manage soil nutrients. The researchers measured carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane gas (CH4) emissions throughout the five-year crop rotation. Cumulative CO2 and N2O fluxes and overall global warming potential were lower for the organic system. Importantly, there were no differences for methane emissions between the two treatments, despite the organic system incorporating livestock. This research adds to the growing body of science that shows that organic production can be an important solution for climate change mitigation. 

Long-term organic management reduces soil-borne diseases and increases crop production

A recent study published in the journal Biologia adds to the growing body of evidence showing organic farming improves microbial conditions in the soil that, in turn, increases disease control and crop yield. This study compared microbiomes in agricultural soil under ten years of organic management versus conventional management. The researchers found that the use of a combination of organic soil amendments, vermicompost, and manure improved soil fertility and carbon sequestration. Organic soils also exhibited more beneficial microbes that convert nitrogen and phosphorus into forms more easily utilized by plants. This increases nutrient uptake efficiency, which can enhance plant health and productivity. While a wide range of pathogen bacteria that cause soil-borne diseases was found in the conventional soil samples, these pathogens were completely absent in the organic soil samples. These results suggest that long-term organic management not only increases soil fertility, nutrient uptake, and carbon sequestration, it also reduces the risk of plant diseases by altering the diversity of the microbiome in ways that increases beneficial microorganisms.


Compiled from The Organic Center (