30-year study: organic superior

This article was originally published in November 2011

The Rodale Institute has completed 30 years of its Farming Systems Trial (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture, and the results are in: organic rules!

Started in 1981 to study what happens during the transition from chemical to organic agriculture, even early results from the FST surprised a food community that still scoffed at organic practices.

After an initial decline in yields during the first few years of transition, the organic system soon rebounded to match or surpass the conventional system.

Today, the FST’s data showing the superiority of organics are even more robust. Organic methods are improving the health of our soils and water, reinvigorating rural areas, creating more jobs, providing a livable income for farmers, and restoring America’s confidence in our food system — facts hardly surprising to us organic consumers, whose demand has made it possible.

The findings:

  • Organic yields match conventional yields.
  • Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
  • Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter.
  • Organic farming uses 45 percent less energy and is more efficient.
  • Conventional systems produce 40 percent more greenhouse gases.
  • Organic farming systems are more profitable.

Read the entire report at rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years..

Also in this issue

News bites, November 2011

American Thanksgiving, Coffee cuts risk of depression, Organic farming more profitable, and more

Remembering the early days of PCC

Among today’s nearly 45,000 PCC members, there is just a tiny handful who still can remember back more than 50 years to the days when PCC was a cooperative food-buying club for fewer than a hundred families.

Spice up your baking

This time of year we’re firing up our ovens to do all manner of baking and many of our favorite recipes just wouldn’t be the same without cinnamon, cloves and other sweet, peppery spices.