A new study conducted by Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has found that organic food is actually worse for the environment.
Organic food production produces a lower yield per hectare than conventionally-farmed foods due to the lack of fertilisers. To produce the same amount of organic food, farmers therefore need more land. Greater land usage, however, results in higher carbon dioxide emissions through deforestation. Because of this, the climate footprint for organic farming is greater than conventional farming’s footprint, because it uses more land. For example, the study found that organic peas have a climate impact 50% higher than conventional peas, purely due to the land required to produce the same yield.
It doesn’t stop at vegetables: organic meat and dairy products are worse for the environment, too. These products use organic plant-based feedstock, which requires much more land and results in the same problem.
However, the study does not advocate that conscientious customers simply switch to non-organic produce. Instead, it suggests being aware of the impact different types of food have. For instance, eating organic beans or organic chicken is much better for the climate than to eat conventionally produced beef. It is about selecting the foods with the smallest negative impact on a number of grounds: climate, animal welfare and health benefits, among others.
Ultimately, organic food is not environmentally friendly, but it’s not always a foe, either.