In the wake of the ever increasing global population, an issue of major concern has been whether the world has the capacity to feed and continue feeding its entire population. Moreover, attention has been focused on whether it is the supply or the quality of food that matters in meeting the nutrition needs of the global population. Notably, a major trend has been the widespread popping up of fast food restaurants in which food is served fast, but not necessary when taking into consideration whether or not such food is healthy. Also, it is worth noting that healthier food choices tend to be more costly than the fast foods, at least when some factors are taken into context. One food option that is considered healthy is organic food. This essay will argue that despite the fact that more effort is required to produce organic food, this type of food important for sustainable development in the contemporary society.
Growing organic food can help deal with the problem of food waste that is hindering the attainment of food security, in terms of better nutrition. For some time now, the US has been struggling to contain the problem of food waste. In fact, the issue has finally caught the attention of various stakeholders including the government, upon which the Obama administration has committed itself to reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. In the nation, a good number of people order more food than they need and throw away the excess. Actually, 40 to 50% of food waste is attributed to actions of consumers. Chefs also contribute to food waste by leaving out some parts of food items they deem unsuitable for preparation, yet these are parts that would help improve the nutrition of some malnourished individuals somewhere. However, what is most significant about this food waste issue is that whereas Americans may think they are only wasting what they bought using their own money, the truth of the matter is that they are depriving other global populations the much needed nutrition. This is because the US functions within a global market implying that wasting food unjustifiably takes it off the market shelf that people in Africa and other continents rely on. Fortunately, investing in growing of organic food can help alleviate this problem. Since these foods are more costly, Americans will be compelled to order less, or just the amount that will meet their needs. This is because most people would not find it sensible to spend more on food only to throw it away. This is particularly important because as Fromartz notes, there has been a significant shift in trend in which restaurant chains offering healthier food alternatives, precisely organically grown food types, are coming up. Even though the number is still low, if more organic foods are grown thereby stabilizing the supply to these restaurant chains, it is likely that Americans will consider purchasing the healthier alternative. This is especially because the society is currently faced by obesity as a major health issue of concern. Also, it is important to consider that the manner in which the raw food items supplied to the restaurants are produced is sustainable. Fromartaz terms them “…humanely raised meat, sometimes organic vegetables locally grown…” (par. 3). On realizing that eating unhealthy is costing them greatly in terms of health, it is likely that Americans will in the future support these growing establishments. Most importantly, they will refocus on health and not quantity that is too much for them to handle. Subsequently, with less food wastage, resources will be diverted to other areas of development in the global society. Moreover, since organic foods are healthier than fast foods, the society’s health will be improved thereby increasing its productivity.
Growing of organic food constitutes a more sustainable way of farming, due to the fact that the practices involved are not detrimental to the environment and human health. Here, it is important to note that organic farming is considered to be one of the most environmental friendly farming practices. According to Giovanucci, in the near future, attention will significantly be focused on agriculture “…as a central feature in the management of healthy ecosystems…”. One of the greatest issues of concern with respect to most contemporary farming practices is that they use too much of pesticides and herbicides. This is usually informed by the idea that these chemicals enable production of crops that are resistant to drought and whose nutrients have been enhanced, while at the same time increasing the yield. However, all these operate oblivious of the fact that the very chemicals end up in the environment endangering the organisms in it including humans. On the contrary, organic foods are grown using safer alternatives to chemicals, implying that they contribute to healthier ecosystems.
Organic farming will enable production of quality food, and this is the ultimate process through which sustainable development can be achieved. United Nation’s Second International Conference on Nutrition held in 2012 led to the consensus that contemporary trends in globalization, industrialization, and commercialization of food systems have interfered with the manner in which food production is undertaken, its processing, as well as its consumption. More precisely, there appear to be too much focus on quantity as opposed to quality. On the other hand, the present patterns of production and consumption cannot be sustained and this may worsen in the future if no corrective action is taken. The result has been that food security from the perspective of quality has proved hard to achieve. Worse still, the intensive farming practices end up stressing the environment thus raising questions on their sustainability. The story of the state of Punjab in India is an ideal example in this case. After a period of increased production of grain and wheat, the state is no longer able to play the key role it once played in feeding India. This has been due to the impact of intensive cultivation of rice and wheat in which all means possible have been employed to increase crop yield. The poor farming practices have stressed the water resources and soil, and they are clearly not sustainable. The following table illustrates how India’s food production capacity increased in the period between 1950 and 2008. Notably, considering the issues such as those faced by Punjab, the nation may no longer be able to feed its population. In fact, it may resort to importing food grains as it can be observed from the table that although there was no import in 2008, there had been a progressive increase in importation over the preceding years.
Source: Dhillon, Kataria, & Dhillon.
In this regard, attaining food security will require the agriculture industry to reform and adopt those practices that do not strain the environment for production to be sustainable.
However, it is important to acknowledge that organic food tends to be more expensive compared to other less healthy choices. This is because their production does not employ “shortcuts” in the form of chemicals and other practices to achieve increased yield and enhanced nutrition. Notwithstanding, it cannot be overlooked that proper investment in organic farming can help offset the higher production costs. For instance, more advanced technology can lead to higher efficiency. Moreover, the fact that organic foods are healthier implies that ultimately, they save more, in terms of less demand for healthcare services, than even the supposedly cheaper but unhealthy alternatives. From another perspective, organic farming can be facilitated at the household level such that households having even a small space can grow organic foods to meet their needs. A good example here is in parts of suburban China where households are utilizing the small parcels of land available to them to grow healthy food crops. For areas that have huge parcels of land, they can be subsidized to produce enough to cater for urban areas where there is no land for farming. This is a worthy investment on the part of the government considering the level of expenditure that goes to treatment of diseases emanating from poor eating habits.
In conclusion, growing of organic food contributes towards sustainable development because the foods are healthier, the farming practices do not damage the environment, and they will help resolve the reduced capacity to achieve sustainable food production. Organic foods will help address food wastage by reducing the demand for unnecessary food. Also, they do not use chemicals in their production and as such, they are environmentally friendly. There is a dire need for the global society and the agricultural industry in particular to move towards sustainable development. Organic farming is one of the most significant ways of achieving sustainability. By expanding production of these types of foods that do not call for extensive use of costly chemicals, the society can be able to achieve quality as a complement to quantity. Together, the two will enable the world to achieve the much needed food security in a sustainable way.