Should we go organic?

I used to live in West End and was a member of ‘Friends of the Earth’. I joined a protest or two against this and that, even. I was very keenly biased towards organic, believing it to be the right thing to do.

Then I went to uni where I started studying agriculture. My first assignment in agronomy was to compare a crop with fossil fuel and chemical inputs to one without. I chose sorghum, and compared a crop in India to one in Australia. We produced four times the harvest to the one with low inputs in India!

organic farmMy reason for studying agriculture was because I wanted to help people in poor countries produce enough food to feed themselves. I couldn’t afford to be a staunchly against chemical use in food production. Those cunning lecturers never told me that organic wasn’t the way to go. Instead they simply had me look at the facts to help me to decide for myself, using knowledge rather than first-world dogma.

I only eat organic Weet-bix and bread, but I’m pragmatic – or is it balanced:

  • I don’t like small bananas so I buy regular ones.
  • I won’t use pesticides on my own garden vegetables but I will inject a tree being attacked by termites with termiticide.
  • I don’t use residual herbicides but I will poison a stump with biodegradable chemicals.

I suggest none of us can afford to be soap-box organic supporters when we have to feed ourselves, our families and another seven billion people; and manage our trees to boot. At the same time, I loathe cancer so I have to take due precautions against exposure to toxins.


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