As many consumers and food professionals like Joshua Manocherian appreciate, there are environmental and health benefits associated with choosing organic produce over conventionally-farmed produce.  Increasingly it is being confirmed that organic produce is healthier and more nutritious, and the sustainability of organic farming practices are good for the environment.

Organic practices are perfectly suited to the backyard garden.  This makes it easy for anyone with a bit of space and a commitment to healthy eating to produce home-grown organic veggies, fruits and herbs for themselves and their families to enjoy.  Here are some of the main principles of organic farming to get you started.



Organic farming embraces a natural approach to producing food.  In a basic way, this translates into the exclusion of genetically-modified crops.  These are crops that have been engineered to grow faster and bigger, and to have an inbred resistance to pests or droughts.  Proponents of GMO products say that they contribute to a healthy environment by reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers.  However, there is some debate as to whether GMOs may be dangerous to consume, with many people taking the view that these modified plants may cause health problems in humans.  While this may be an extreme position, there is more evidence to suggest that GMO products may be less nutritionally-dense than organically grown produce.  What is not disputed is that GMO products represent a threat to the natural diversity of grains and other plants, a fact that makes us dependent on single strains of the food we eat and therefore vulnerable to its loss.

No chemical pesticides

Organic farming makes use of natural rather than chemical strategies to eliminate insect pests.  Instead of spraying crops with poisons that we will ultimately ingest, organic farmers use techniques like crop rotation to interrupt the life-cycles of pests that tend to stick with particular plants.  Another traditional method involves introducing insects that don’t harm crops and actually eat the destructive pests.

Natural weed prevention

Organic farming also avoids the use of chemicals to treat weeds, preferring instead to use natural methods including good old-fashioned manual removal.  Other approaches include planting multiple crops on the same land, with one being used to “drown out” weeds that are commonly associated with the other.  This works as a sort of natural weed suppressant, but farmers may also use plastic sheets between plants to prevent weeds from growing.

Because of the emphasis on natural rather than chemical treatments to support crop growth and the growth of locally-hardy plants instead of patented GMOs, organic practices are an excellent and affordable choice for backyard gardens.  Using traditional methods means that you will not be introducing potentially toxic chemicals into your living space.  If you have children, allowing them to dig in the dirt without concern for exposure to harmful chemicals is a great way to encourage the development of a lifelong relationship with real food.