Is All Organic Food More Climate Smart?

Organic farmers don’t use artificial fertilizers and pesticides that require a lot of fossil energy to produce and contribute to the emission of greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, and research has shown that organic farming increases the amount of decaying plant parts in the soil. 

This is good because it makes the soil more fertile and at the same time binds carbon.

However, all organic food is not always automatically more climate-smart. It depends on what you eat. Oats, beans, lentils, chickpeas, collard, kohlrabi, potatoes, beets or other legumes and greens that are grown organic in your country from the plant kingdom are the climate-smart foods (even if they have been transported far or found in the freezer this only has 6% impact on climate and definetly better option than meat based diet) However when choosing fresh vegetables, it is also more climate-smart to choose seasonal ones as they don’t come from the long way with the transportation.

Most vegetables have similar climate footprints per kilo of crop, but lower climate footprints per hectare if they are organic. At the same time, organic meat has about the same impact as non-organic. This is because not all sources of greenhouse gases in organic farming can be changed, for example the digestion of cows and sheep. Therefore, it is important to eat vegan to reduce the food’s climate impact.
The biggest advantage of organic farming, however, is that it leads to higher biodiversity, which means that we can better handle future climate change and continue to produce food.

Photograph: Jonathan Kemper