What is Organic?





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    Organic growing is a system which uses natural (organic) materials to nourish the soil which in turn produces vegetables, fruit and other crops. It does not use pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilizers. This method of growing was used until the end of World War II, so there's nothing new about organic growing.

How did we come back to Organic Growing?
At the end of WWII, scientists looked for additional ways of producing vegetables, grains and other produce. Surely they could control nature so that bigger and better crops could be harvested without the methods used in nature. They scientifically analyzed the growing needs for crops and worked towards reproducing artificially the various nutrients, which plants require for growth. They looked at the problem of pests and disease and unwanted weeds and devised powerful pesticides and herbicides that they could apply to the plants and to the soils to eradicate these.

     Agricultural departments around the world welcomed this new era of chemical control. But a few people around the world were uneasy about using poisons on the food which they then had to eat. They found that under the new chemical regime their soil was dead; there were no living organisms in it at all. The pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers had killed all good and bad elements. They were worried about the long-term effect of the poisons on the health of themselves and, more importantly, their children. Scientists claimed there was no 'scientific evidence' to show any ill-effects on people in the short term and, of course, the poisons had not been in use long enough to determine the long-term effect on people's health.

     So the 50s, 60s and 70s saw wholesale use of these techniques and a whole generation grew up which by and large knew no other way of growing crops and vegetables. The few people who were concerned about these developments were branded as hippies or the lunatic fringe element. It was in this context that the organic growing movement began.

     By the mid 80s more people were becoming uneasy about the fruit and vegetables they were buying. DDT, which in the 1950s had been hailed as a major breakthrough in insect control, was found to be almost completely non-biodegradable. It remained in the soil and eventually built up in the food chain and could be deposited in the fatty tissue of humans. It was eventually banned, but its offspring lindane, dieldrin, chlordane and other chlorinated hydrocarbons, remained in use.

     It was not until 1987 that Australians really began to sit up and take notice of what was happening to their soil and crops. The US had rejected a potential $200 million worth of export meat because of the unacceptably high level of chemical residue in the animals. Many of these animals had been grazing on pasture to which a whole array of pesticides had previously been applied. To the dismay of the farmers, they were now told that those chemicals had a life in the soil of 20-30 years and that no more grazing must occur on their property for that period.

     For the first time, mainstream people began to question the wholesale use of chemicals in their fruit and vegetable. People, looking around for alternatives, began to seriously consider organic methods and to seek organic produce.