organic vs. conventional foods – discussion and conclusion

The proposals for substitution of conventional foods with organic foods bear main credibility on the environmental conservation achievements of the alternate farming methods. Though recommended application of chemicals in agriculture may not bear immediate harmful health outcomes; the impact of these on the environmental front is generally appreciated (Trewavas, 2004). In this respect the main barrier to adoption of organic farming practices would relate to whether its alternatives present a feasible solution that does not curtail productivity (Paarlberg, 2009). For proponents of organic farming then conservation measures such as crop rotation and intercropping practices in addition to soil fertility improvement through natural and animal compost could solve the productivity issue (Parrot & Marsden, 2002). However whether such practices can bring about as much productivity as what industrial revolution advancements of conventional farming brought thus enhancing food safety is debatable (Paarlberg, 2009).

Secondly the concerns with switching to organic products has been the quality vis-à-vis the cost of such products. Whereas consumer perception of quality in organic foods has been favorable, experimental results have doubted superiority of these products’ quality over those of conventional alternatives (Cunningham, 2001; Harker, 2004; Jiwan, et al, 2009; Ness, et al., 2010). Such mixed findings then has resulted to concerns over the higher pricing of organic products than conventional ones. Since higher production cost may be attributed to these higher market prices of the organic products (Parrot & Marsden, 2002); the effectiveness of organic farming in providing solution to food shortages in the world may be questionable (Paarlberg, 2009). Such perspectives then imply that organic farming justification may rest in ethical issues.

Consumers concern for ethical production practices may be argued a core driver of rising popularity of organic farming. What however has complicated the ethical debate has been different standards of ethical applications. On the one side; ethical standards based on humane treatment of animals, environmental conservation rating and employment preservation favor organic farming. On the other side ensuring access to food for both the rich and poor has been advanced on empowering the peasant farmers with modern technologies for farming that increase productivity and create additional jobs (Paarlberg, 2009). With these different perspectives the decision to which of the two alternatives is more ethical is only better made with the situation context in mind.

The issues surrounding use of organic foods to replace conventional foods are thus enormous. To evaluate these issues this paper thus intended to assess the benefits related with these on different themes. While the environmental advantages of organic farming have supported organic foods consumption; aspects such as productivity, economics and value of organic the products have not completely supported their consumption. In conclusion, it would thus be worth of notable that both organic and conventional practices offer solutions to different farming needs thus all have a role to play when appropriately regulated.

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