What is organic farming?

While most large farms today use chemicals to control weeds and insects and to produce increased amounts of vegetables, milk, or eggs, some farmers have chosen to run their farms without chemicals. Organic farmers believe that the chemicals many farmers use can be damaging to the environment and to the people that eat the food grown on such farms. They feel that natural fertilizers and pest-control methods are just as effective and far healthier.

A British farmer and scientist named Albert Howard began the practice of organic farming as an alternative to modern chemical-based methods in the 1930s. His ideas have spread all over the world, taking hold in the United States in the late 1940s. A basic principle of organic farming is to focus on keeping the soil rich with nutrients by feeding it natural fertilizers like cow manure. Such fertile soil can help create stronger plants that are better able to resist disease and insects. Organic farmers also prevent insect damage by putting up insect traps or by bringing in beneficial insects that feed on the harmful ones that are causing the problem. In extreme cases, they need to use pesticides, but to continue being certified as organic farmers in the United States, such farmers need to use botanical pesticides (those that are made from plants) rather than synthetic, or man-made, chemicals.


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