So what is the difference between organic and sustainable?
We were a little confused about this. How about you? We certainly want to buy foods that are healthy and help save our environment so what does this all mean? We did a little research to try to sort it out.
In theory, something that is organic should be sustainable, right? Or sustainable should be organic? The two are often used in conjunction with one another but they are not necessarily the same.
Here are a few key differences:
Organic is regulated, but not necessarily small or local. Organic products are regulated by the USDA and must meet specific guidelines in order to be labeled organic. It means growing food without the aid of synthetic pesticides, growing livestock without administering antibiotics or hormones. Organic, however, does not necessarily mean small or locally grown. Many corporations have jumped on the organic movement by using organic practices because they see the consumer demand for it. Now organic products can be available anywhere, any time. For example, we can have citrus or asparagus in cold weather climates in the middle of January. So while organic maybe healthier for you and environment, mass production and long distance shipping still uses many non-reusable resources.
Sustainable agriculture is local. Sustainable farms by definition are not large-scale mass producers. Sustainable practices use local resources and tend not to move food farther than 200 miles from the site of production- another words, bringing the farmer closer to the consumer.
In theory it means using limited resources, minimizing waste and implementing farm practices that lessen the impact on the environment. For example, rather than relying on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it means more reliance on methods such as crop rotation, animal manure fertilizers and/or biological controls to manage insects, and weeds. So while sustainable products may not necessarily be organic, sustainable agriculture is a method of farming that minimizes environmental damage and depletion of resources.
The moral of the story- stay educated on your food choices and how they are grown or manufactured. It is our consumer dollar that influences the way in which our food is produced.
Do you have any comments or questions about organic or sustainable production?? Let us know!