If you follow the Organic Farmers Market in Nairobi which I have for a couple of years,you may have noticed that there are now more places where they have organized for Kenyans to buy organic food as well as more vendors, which means there has been an increase in the demand for organic food from the Kenyan market.
You must have wondered about what all the noise is about Organic farming and why suddenly there has been a surge in the demand as well as consumption of organic produce. I thought this post would be helpful in helping us appreciate organic farming as well as see why the demand for organic food has grown.
Organic farming is a system of agricultural production that involves the cultivation of crops and the rearing of animals using natural ways.
Conserve Energy defines it as a process that involves the use of biological materials,avoiding synthetic substances to maintain soil fertility and ecological balance thereby minimizing pollution and wastage.With a world population that is more than 7 billion and a land size that remains the same yet it is fighting with encroachment from human settlement,the demand for arable land is on the rise and people are looking for all manner of ways to make the most of the available land and animal resources.
One of the ways unscrupulous people have found to get more from their land and animals in order to make a few quick dollars is to pump it with chemicals,pesticides as well as speed up the maturity of farm animals like chicken by injecting them with growth hormones.
The bottom line in all of these endeavors is not a concern for the people who will eventually buy these foods from the supermarkets,it is
profit greed that is the only driver for such practices that puts the lives of other human lives at risk.
It is true organic food costs more , because of the work involved as it is a very labor intensive exercise.It is also true that you expose yourself to less risk if you choose to go organic.
About 4 years back,I lived on a farm in Nakuru where we grew vegetables and other crops I also took up some organic farming on the side as an experiment project as well as to keep me busy.
My crops of choice were potatoes,zucchinis,carrots , to prepare I read widely and found that potatoes do very well especially if you mix dried manure into the soil and so I went about asking for dung from the farmers that owned cows around where we lived.I got a lot of it as well as a lot of curious looks as to what I needed cow dung it for.
But the venture came with a lot of challenges as well.The area where we lived was infested with moles ,how to get rid of them without using chemicals?
And we set about looking for a mole catcher,they do not exist anymore by the way and before we found we had a village of molehills on the farm as well as lost a lot of potatoes.
Up until the time we harvested the potatoes and carrots I never used a single drop of pesticide on them and they did fairly well.They potatoes and carrots came in all manner of sizes and we lost some as well to pests,but I had done it ,grown something without use of a single pesticide or chemical.
The need for organic farming is driven by the need for more sustainable methods of farming that ensure we will still be able to produce enough food 50 years from now on when the world population is estimated will be at more than 10 billion.
For those that have tasted organically grown fruits and vegetables you agree with me that they taste better than what you get from the supermarket shelves.Eggs from free range chicken are also more tastier ,have a yolk with the must delicious yellow color and just a bit smaller than the eggs that you get at the supermarket.
We consume a variety of pesticides and chemicals from foods like chicken,beef and other dairy products as well as from fruits and vegetables .The chemicals from pesticides and other drugs like antibiotics used to treat these animals have found their way into our food and we have started seeing resistance to the most widely available antibiotics used to treat very common infections.
Scientists are having to work very hard to keep up with the microbial mutations are now resisting the currently available antibiotics.
These resistance is leaving scientists and researchers worried as it means the increased resistance by disease causing bacteria to these drugs will expose us to infections which currently available antibiotics will not be able to treat.
The discovery of the latest antibiotic was reported this April and it was done by Canadian scientists,it was the first in antibiotic discovery in
3 decades 30 years and the drug is still years away from being available to the public.
The increasing public awareness on what is going on,increasing incidences of disease and the effects of environmentally unsustainable decades of farming methods have pushed organic farming front and centre.
If you are in Nairobi, follow the Organic Farmers Market on Facebook to see where the market will be next and get to interact with the farmers working hard to ensure we produce food in a more sustainable ad environmentally friendly manner than we are d right now.
Why is organic farming important and why should you care,I have a few reasons to think about why organic matters and who knows maybe you may take it up or talk to someone about it then we have a new generation of organic farmers.We may even meet at the Organic market.
1.Buying organic foods creates a demand in the market and will push farmers to be more responsible especially over the use of pesticides and other chemicals as they grow crops or rear their animals.This is already happening in some countries where consumers are demanding more responsibility over the use of drugs and pesticides.
In this way we are promoting a more sustainable model that ensures the earth is able to feed the future generations that come after us.
2.Buying organic foods means that you get the foods fresh,these foods have not been treated with any preservatives or had nay additives added to them to lengthen their shelf life.
The shelf life of organic foods is very short because of their very minimal journey from the farm to your plate which is what has encouraged the farm to fork movement globally and has had people support local farmers by buying local foods.
3.Buying organic has helped promoted the growth of agriculture as a means of livelihood especially among young people. Across the globe young adults are taking up agriculture and providing us with food.It has helped stem the increase in the number of the unemployed,helped increase food production as well as seen technology revolutionize farming.Europe has seen the number of its youthful population taking up farming,you may find this article from The Economist really interesting.
In Kenya as well we have several groups on social media platforms talking nothing but farming.See how dailies are falling over themselves to provide information on farming especially in the Saturday paper .
Young people are going back to the farms to ensure there is food for the more than 7 billion of us.
4.Buying organic and consuming organic ensures you know where your food comes from,how it gets produced and what goes into the production process.You are reducing your exposure to the chemical toxins that could put you at risk of developing certain life threatening conditions through the ingestion of chemicals that may have been used in their production ,processing or packing.
5.By buying organic you get to interact with the farmers that grow your food and there are benefits to that.There is nothing like meeting the person or people that put so much work to ensure you do not go hungry and appreciating the work they do.Human interaction especially in an age where technology is taking over how we socialize with each other,a conversation with another human being is always a great way to spend the weekend.I think one of the reasons people in big cities like Nairobi are always angry and stressed is because we speak so little to each to other,yet we know healthy relationships are part of living a fulfilled and healthy lifestyle.
6.Taking your children with you to the organic market for grocery shopping and let them feel,touch,sell and taste food.As I mentioned in an earlier post taking your children grocery shopping is a way of getting them involved in meal planning and ensuring they adopt healthy eating habits early in life.
They will get to know how to choose fresh ingredients,how fresh food looks like and most important they will learn to value the hard work of the people like farmers who work behind the scenes to make sure we get fed.
And just in case your children hardly ever get to travel upcountry,they will know food does not grow in the supermarket :-).
7.Buying organic is an opportunity to increase the awareness on more sustainable forms of agriculture and hopefully this will lead to legislation by governments as well as push them to develop policies that can protect as well as promote organic farming.
Do you buy or grown organic food?would you love to be featured on our blog,please get in touch with us.
As always your feedback,comments and suggestions are welcome.See you in the comments section.