A few key reasons to buy and eat organic:
Wise stewardship of land
When you buy sustainably grown food, you are voting for the mindful and grateful use of land. You are supporting a reliance on the ways of nature, the careful preservation of nutrient-dense soil, and a farmer’s discouragement of, rather than eradication of, pests. You affirm a view of the world that includes humans as humble participants rather than arrogant overseers. And you encourage the fixing of our attention on the horizon rather than on our own feet.
Humane and grateful animal husbandry
When you buy meat from farmers whose animals you have seen and perhaps even petted, you pay for farmers to care about the quality of a creature’s life and for the wise use of nature’s laws in tending those creatures. Paying for meat that’s well-raised means paying for cows to spend their days in warm sun, on green grass. Avoiding supermarket meat means withholding remuneration from those who would confine a pig to a 2-by-3-foot stall for all of its adult life in a pitch-black structure suspended by slats over a pit of excrement. It means keeping your money from those who feed herbivores like carnivores, use antibiotic-laced feed, genetically modified growth hormones, and grossly inappropriate “food” like reconstituted cardboard, plastic and manure.
Food health and human health
Eating well-raised meat means affirming the connection between the health of an animal and the health of the person who consumes it. Eating organic or biodynamically grown fruits and vegetables means affirming the connection between soil health and human health. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, is good for the land and is good for you.
Food grown locally and organically is far less likely to carry pathogens like E. Coli, listeria, salmonella and other dangerous food-borne bacteria.
Preservation of land and community
When you buy food that’s local, fresh and raised to organic standards, you pay for the preservation of land and financially support your community.
Preservation of farmers
Less than 2% of our population now farms. Every day, farmers are forced to choose between the love of their land and its cultivation, and the clear financial reward of its sale to developers. Buying local and organic means voting to sustain the viability and profitability of small farming.
Less reliance on fossil fuels
The growing cost and shrinking supply of fossil fuels makes using petro-chemical pesticides and fertilizers more expensive and less practical. And there’s no denying that transporting food thousands of miles from its origin to your plate is a waste of fuel. When you buy local and organic, you vote for less reliance on petroleum in cultivation and transportation.
De-centralization of food supply
Seeking out local and organic foods marginalizes food that is grown in southeast Nebraska, processed in Wisconsin and sold in Boston. Just by seeking out food that is local and unprocessed, the consumer can free small farmers from monopolistic agribusinesses and their power to impose artificially low prices. Buying direct means cutting out price-inflating tiers of food handling and transportation, and instead giving that money to small farmers and allowing them to become viable and profitable. It means diversifying the cultivation of our food among many small enterprises rather than by a few large ones, which results in more people possessing an intimate knowledge of the rhythms of land and the creatures upon on it.
But can you afford it?
In a word, probably yes, but you may need to prioritize and excise. Buying local and organic often does mean paying more per item, but there are ways to conserve and compensate. And there’s the long-term savings. When you take care with your food, you are more likely to spend much less on doctors and other medical expenses. No matter how you live, your money will get spent. How it gets spent is up to you.