There are so many different terms associated with food production and it can be very confusing to consumers. At the Yardley Farmers’ Market, we have farmers who grow their food using one or a combination of organic, regenerative or IPM methods, and we’re here to break it down for you here!
What is Organic Farming?
Organic farming is a method of farming that involves growing crops without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Also, no genetically modified seeds or organisms are allowed. This method of farming relies on natural agriculture principles, like crop rotation, and use of organic waste, like manure. Pesticides and fertilizers can be used if they are considered natural.
What is Regenerative Farming?
Regenerative farming is a way of farming that focuses on restoring the soil to its natural ecosystem. Regenerative growers limit mechanical soil disturbance, helping to preserve the natural biology of the soil. When soil is not disturbed, and remains in its natural state, it’s full of bacteria, fungi and other microbes, which are what plants need to grow. Additionally, regenerative farmers use little to no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, Lastly, soil is a natural sink for carbon. When soil is left in its natural state, it’s able to draw down tons of carbon dioxide greenhouse gasses, helping to protect the environment.
What is Integrative Pest Management (IPM)?
IPM is an approach that uses knowledge about pests and their life cycles, non-chemical methods, and pesticides to manage pest problems. With IPM, the pest problem is monitored and evaluated before choosing a method that will be used to manage the pest. With IPM, chemical methods for controlling pests are typically used minimally and only when necessary.
How does the method of farming affect the nutrients in our food?
A recent study published last year looked the amount of nutrients in the food produced using different methods of farming. The study found that compared to conventional practices and organic, mechanical tilling practices, crops produced using regenerative practices had higher levels of Vitamin K, Vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, zinc, and total carotenoids, which are a group of powerful antioxidants. Additionally, animals raised using regenerative practices produced meat with higher levels of omega 3 fats compared to conventional methods. The researchers note that the results of this study are consistent with prior studies examining regenerative practices and nutrient values.
While different methods of farming may produce food with some differences in nutrient value, it should be noted that consuming fruits and vegetables, regardless of the farming method, is better than consuming no fruits and vegetables. And buying local produce, which is picked at the peak of ripeness, provides more nutrients than store bought produce.
How can I find out which method of farming is used when buying food?
Talk to your farmer and ask how they grow their food. The farmers at Yardley Farmers’ Market use a variety of methods of farming when producing their food. They are always happy to share details on their farming methods and practices with shoppers. That’s the best way to know what you’re eating!