Back to the roots: Organic farming

Story highlights:

  • What is organic farming practices
  • Organic vs. Non-organic
  • Cal Poly’s organic farm


What is organic?

Organic farming is a practice that uses limited chemical treatments and fertilizers or synthetic pesticides. There are many aspects and circumstances that must be met in order to be certified organic. In addition the entire production of the material must be organic, such as the distribution, storage and warehousing must be in areas or through other companies that are certified organic.

According to the USDA website: “The USDA organic seal verifies that irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used.”

Organic farmers or manufacturers must abide by these standards in order to become certified organic. The goals of organic practices are:

  1. Support animal health and welfare
  2. Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  3. Allow animals to exercise their natural behaviors by providing proper space
  4. Do not use genetically modified plants or animals

Many stores and restaurants, such as Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe, use or have organic items for these

Organic vs. nonorganic?

Some benefits of using organic practices are the protection of natural resources and materials, localize industries and receive premium prices. The whole practice is beneficial to biodiversity and all life forms.

First year biological studies major, Ellen Krippaehne, grew up eating organic foods in her home and has tried to continue this practice in college.

“At home we only ever had organic and I think it’s still something I need and want to do for my own health and the health of the environment,” said Krippaehne.

A downside that many consumers bring issue with when it comes to organic materials is that they can often times be slightly more expensive than non organic competitors.

This price jump turns many consumers away from purchasing organic foods over non organics, such as frugal first year aerospace engineer Jake Davis.

“I understand what organic farming is supposed to be getting at, but I feel like conventional farming’s practices are not as undesirable as people make them out to be so I generally just buy regular foods,” said Davis.

There are some foods that are recommended to buy organic over others though. According to an ABC News article, Organic vs. Nonorganic: What Should You Buy?, the top five foods to buy organic are strawberries, bell peppers, carrots, apples and celery.

Cal Poly’s organic farm

Cal Poly’s campus has its own working organic farm, which is an 11-acre property that is certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers. It strives to teach students the process and requirements of organic farming but also reaps product that are later sold at various times and locations.

The organic farm’s produce is available at downtown San Luis Obispo’s Farmer’s Market as well as on the campus plant store on Wednesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition, San Luis Obispo offers numerous grocery stores that provide a wide selection of organic foods such as New Frontiers and Trader Joes. Many general grocery stores have organic options as well.


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