Organic Farming is Energy Efficient

By Lynel Shreve

Here in Boulder, Colorado, the summer temperatures are finally beginning their slow descent from the highs of July. If you are like me, and use an AC unit for the summer blasts, this is a wonderful time of the year because you know something else will also be decreasing: your energy bill! But did you know that another way to lower your energy consumption is by choosing organic food? That’s right—yet another study has confirmed the benefits of organic farming.

In 2006, The Organic Center published a State of Science Review by Dr. David Pimentel that described the energy inputs and outputs for agricultural production on conventional versus organic farms. The Review showed that overall, organic farming was more energy efficient than conventional farming systems. Read the full report.

Recently, Nova Scotia Agricultural College conducted another in-depth review of 130 studies on the topic and has affirmed Dr. Pimentel’s results.  The study considered all of the energy costs involved in agricultural production, and not just the usual inputs of electricity and fuel. The conclusion was that organic farming averages 20% higher energy savings than conventional farming. Greater efficiency was due to organic agriculture's method of harnessing and relying on solar energy to grow crops and non reliance on expensive nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides for production. Relying instead on natural and biological techniques for crop production gives organic farming the advantage in conserving energy by reducing the amount of inputs needed on the farm.

Read more about the study.

So, what can YOU do to help reduce energy use in our food system? Here are three tips for reducing your energy consumption, while still enjoying your food consumption:

  • Choose whole foods with less packaging.
  • Choose locally grown, in season foods when they are available.
  • And of course, whenever possible choose organic!