Should vegans really eat organic foods?
I recently started working in the farming industry. I have learned several things about organic farming that make me realize it is not nearly as great as most vegans think it is. In general, organic farming requires the use of large amounts of animal waste product as fertilizer - whether manure, chicken blood, fish slurry, or in other forms. This animal waste is most often supplied by "conventional" animal farms. In fact, without the large factory farms full of mistreated animals that we love to hate, organic farming as it exists today would not be viable. I don't think most vegans would be as enthusiastic about eating organic foods if they knew it relied on the mass destruction and mistreatment or animals to grow it. Perhaps a new classification of foods is needed that are vegan friendly....
Also, your site says, "Organic foods are those that are made without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones." However, that is not accurate. Organic food production uses pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemicals - just not synthetic chemicals. Often the same chemicals used in conventional farming are used in organic farming, just in a naturally occurring form or derived from natural (organic or inorganic) ingredients. Many of these chemicals are still dangerous to humans, animals, and insects. There are even quite a few synthetic chemicals / substances approved for use in "organic" farming.
As a vegan, I'm not sure if it is better to buy organic produce or conventional produce. At least conventional produce doesn't use animal wastes, but it does use some harsher chemicals. In the end maybe the only safe option is for vegans to grow our own food or develop our own certification.
Question: What do you think?
Answer: Thank you so much for your post, and for all this great, insightful information. You raise really good points and I think this discussion will add quite a bit to our site.
Indeed, I agree that the term "organic" has certainly denegrated into something much less than what most people expect when they but it. Because so many people hope to be conscientious shoppers nowadays, "organic" has become a huge industry, leading to money-making measures.
The term "organic" started as a way to distinguish between crops grown with traditional, age-old measures of farming (including crop rotation, fertilization with organic materials like animal manure and those based on producing a crop as quickly as possible with synthetic measures such as genetic modification, fungicides, pesticides, etc. Oddly enough, the more conventional farming came to be known as "organic" and the less conventional as "conventional."
As a vegan who enjoys trying to grow her own crops, I have had issues trying to find my own soil and fertilizer not made with fish blood and bones, chicken poop, and everything else under the sun. You are right that even at Home Depot, most of the "organic" foods are made with those materials, and I realized immediately that those would have come from factory farms. It's such a disaster. Because the food industry has been so violated in the last 50 years, everything is a mess.
It becomes very overwhelming to try to live and eat according to one's values, and very often I resolve the same thing... the only safe, compassionate way to live is to grow your own food. While some have the luxury to do just that, others of us are stuck making some sacrifices, and I think it falls on each individual to figure out where they personally want to draw the line.
My personal recommendation is to get as much produce as possible from a local farmer's market and grow anything you possibly can. Even though most of our local "organic" are going to have used organic fertilizers like manure, my hope is that they have used manure from their own family farms where their animals are treated with dignity. At least then I can be sure that the seeds have not been genetically manipulated and countless species of bugs and animals are not being killed off by the pollution caused by the synthetic agents used to improve crop results.
Thank you for making a great point. Also, thank you for your suggestion about my definition of organic. I will update that to make it more clear.