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Organic Food Production

In its 10000 year history the human race has made many advancements in the successful production of its food supply.  The domestication of animals, hybridization of crops, treatment of pests and weed infestations, as well as disease prevention, are just a few examples of the improvements humans have made to ensure a stable and adequate food supply.  However, nowadays there seems to be a "back-to-nature" marketing trend foregoing modern farming practices and advancements in which food manufacturers label their products as "organic" purporting their base production methods are more natural, thus the food healthier and better for the environment. Is precluding conventional farming methods better for us, for the environment and for the world's nutritional needs?  It's for you to decide.

In this activity, you will examine the press articles and videos concerning this subject, and write a composition of your own using the sources provided below.

Activity

  1. Read and understand the articles
  2. Watch and understand the videos
  3. Write a ONE-PAGE composition based on ONE of the following topics:
    1. An impartial but informative news article for your local newspaper
    2. An argumentative essay pursuing one aspect of the debate
    3. An analysis of the credibility and motivations of the articles and videos below

Articles

Questions to think about while reading the following articles:
  • Credibility: Is the author or publisher reputable?
  • Bias: Does the author or publisher exhibit a vested interest in their subject matter?
  • Balance: How well balanced is the article in the presentation of the arguments?
  • Sources: Are the sources of information cited?

Videos

While you're watching the videos below, think about the following questions:

  • What objective is each video trying to achieve?
  • What are the scientific facts presented in the videos?
  • Are the claims backed up with evidence? 
  • What is the level of neutrality in which the information is presented?
  • Does the video play to the viewers' emotions or rationality?

Is Organic Food Better for your Health?

Analysis from Healthcare Triage

What is Organic?

Video explaining the difference between traditional farming and organic.

Other Activities

Open Discussion Questions

After you’ve read the articles and watched the videos above, discuss the following questions in a small group or with a partner. 
  1. Do you buy food products labeled "organic"?

  2. What is the reason you buy food labeled "organic" ?
  3. What are some of the common beliefs about organic farming?
  4. What are some the common beliefs about organic food consumption?
  5. How do organic farmers deal with pests and weeds?
  6. Are organic food products healthier than conventionally farmed food? Why or why not?
  7. Are the methods used in organic food production better or worse for the environment? Explain your answer.
  8. What is the government's current role in food production? (Regulations, labeling, certification, testing, etc.)
  9. As the world's population increases and water short ages become imminent, what do you believe is the best farming method to meet future needs and problems?
  10. What key role has technological innovation played in the current world farming practices?
  11. Do you know of any real-life innovative approaches to sustainable farming and food production?
  12. What are the differences between local farmers' markets and organic grocery stores?
  13. On the subject of consumer food safety, what are some  the dangers of "organically" produced food and of conventionally produced food. 

Download the questions in PDF

Mini Debate

With a partner, or in an evenly divided group, choose one of the three situations below, and conduct a debate adopting the positions outlined below. Take some time to prepare your debate based on the sources given above.

Situation:
As a member of an agricultural town, you have been invited to participate in a town legislative meeting concerning your town's farming regulations.  As your town is a major supplier of produce for a nearby city of approximately 500,000 people, it must adopt future legislation and incentives to ensure the health, well-being and financial interests and well-being of its residents as well as the prosperity of the community and meet the future demands placed on agricultural needs.

Position A:
You are a great supporter of organic food production and believe it to be a benefit for your agricultural community.  You support legislation that will restrict the farms in your town from using non-organic methods of food production, principally for the protection of your local environment but also for the nutritional value that organic food provides.  As your farming community is a major supplier for a large nearby city, you believe that the price consumers are willing to pay for organic food will bring more revenue and contribute to the greater prosperity of your town.

Position B:
It's estimated that by 2050 we will have to produce twice as much food to feed 9 billion people.  You believe that organic farming is not the answer for the future, nor is the amount of land necessary to support organic farms adequate enough to feed the growing population.  You also believe that the pesticides used in organic farming are actually harmful for the consumer and the environment, whereas modern pesticides have been tested safe for human consumption.  You further believe there is no nutritional difference in the foods produced using standard farming methods in comparison to those produced using "organic" guidelines.  Finally, you believe that restrictive organic food production regulations will reduce harvests and not allow your community to adequately provide for the neighboring city further limiting revenue and income to your town's farmers and tax base.

 

Download the mini-debate in PDF

Printables

Comments

What are your thoughts on organic farming?

 

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