Guest Post by Frankie Wallace

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how very precious life and health truly are. Now, more than ever, we’re recognizing the importance of keeping our bodies fit and strong.

Keeping our bodies in peak condition begins with what we eat. Food isn’t just nourishment, it’s also medicine. In recent years, consumers around the globe have begun to get wise to that fact.

The surge in demand for organically produced fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy is ample evidence of this. According to a recent study, US organic food sales reached a record $50.1 billion in 2019, a greater than 4% increase over the previous year.

But it’s not just Americans who are clamoring for organic products. An estimated 50.9 million hectares across 179 countries have been dedicated to organic farming. There are nearly 200,000 such farms across the European Union alone.

The lofty health benefits that are driving this surge in global demand seem to be well justified. In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that eating organic foods can substantially decrease the risk of some of the most common, and deadliest, forms of cancer, including lymphoma, skin, and breast cancer.

A Ray of Hope

To be sure, the coronavirus has dominated the attention for the last months. But cancer has perhaps always been among humanity’s greatest scourges. The mere word has the power to strike fear in the most stalwart of hearts.

While the war against cancer rages on, in recent years, organic foods have proven to be an unexpectedly potent weapon. In a 2018 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, those who were identified as consuming high levels of organic food were found to be 25% less likely to develop any form of cancer than those who ate few or no organic foods.

Researchers speculate that such reductions in cancer risk may be attributed to the decrease in pesticide and herbicide exposure that comes with eating organic. Additionally, organic meat and dairy products are derived from animals that are raised without the use of unnecessary antibiotics, growth hormones, and other synthetic chemicals commonly found in non-organic products.

Others speculate that reductions in cancer risk among organic food consumers may be linked to an overall healthier lifestyle. The more organic foods you consume, for example, the fewer processed foods you’re likely to eat. You’ll be satiated on organic fruits and veggies and that means you’re going to be less tempted by the junk foods that might increase your susceptibility to certain types of cancer.

The healthy lifestyle that’s associated with high organic food consumption is connected to other significant health benefits as well. For example, a diet rich in leafy green vegetables can help keep your bones strong, reducing your risk of falls and life-threatening fractures. For cancer patients, whose treatments are likely to make them vulnerable to osteoporosis, turning to foods free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics can be a powerful weapon in the fight to stay strong and recover.

A Vast Opportunity

Organic foods aren’t just a benefit to the people who are buying and eating them. Going organic can also be highly lucrative for farmers. Studies suggest, for instance, that organic farms are 50% more profitable than conventional enterprises, even though crop yields tend to be nearly 20% lower. Just exactly how profitable organic farming practices are, however, will depend on exactly where you’re located and how large your farm is.

The larger your farm, the more likely you are to be able to afford the process to become a certified-organic operation. This three-year process is overseen by the US Department of Agriculture and involved inspections and enforcement of specific practices that allow a farm to place an official label on its products. As a result, the Organic label is not the ultimate test of farming practices or nutrition. A large Organic farm that ships produce to markets across vast distances may not be the best choice when compared to the small local farms in your area who, although unable to afford the Organic certification process, may be offering more nutritious options with more sustainable farming practices. As a consumer, there’s no substitute for knowing your farmer.

Label notwithstanding, the greatest opportunity that going organic gives to farmers, though, is the chance to connect with local distributors and consumers. The shift to organic is an opportunity to revamp your business model to focus on serving, and collaborating with, the local market.

The same can be said for organic consumers, who tend to be deeply invested in the idea of locally sourcing their products. Most modern consumers are less concerned with the label than with the practices. If your farm is locally focused, you’re going to cut out a lot of the costs, time investments, and regulatory hassles that come with distributing your product to markets across the country and around the world.

Best of all, you’re going to have the satisfaction of knowing your business is protecting the environment and serving customers with the freshest and healthiest products available.

The Takeaway

The demand for organically produced foods has grown substantially in recent years, but it has perhaps never been higher than it is today. With evidence mounting that organically grown foods can significantly cut your cancer risk, more farmers are turning to sustainable, organic practices to meet surging consumer demand.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the interest in healthy eating is likely only to increase. As organic farms proliferate across the globe, the turn toward sustainability is likely to generate significant profitability, even as it makes for healthier, happier, longer-living consumers.

Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from Boise, Idaho. In her free time, she likes to work in her garden and cuddle with her cat, Casper. 

Analyzing the Link Between Organic, Sustainable Farming and Cancer

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