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To understand what organic food is, one must first understand the definition of organic soil since food is the product of the soil. Organic soil has been defined as one in which no chemicals or poisons have been used and in which there is an adequate supply of humus or organic matter. This is correct yet missing an important factor. The key point in organic soil is balance.
To understand what is meant by balance one must realize that all nature, all of life, is polarity. Polarities appear to be in opposition but in reality control each other. Some easily perceived polarities are: hot and cold, wet and dry, positive and negative eletricity poles, day and night, male and female. There are many polarities not discernible by our senses such as those found in lime and silica, aluminum and phosphorus, magnesium and sulfur. There are polarities in vitamins such as A and D. There are polarities in the trace minerals, polarities in the hormones and, undoubtedly, polarities in the enzymes. If any one member of a polarity becomes too great at the expense of its opposite, then an unstable, unhealthy condition will persist until the two members of the polarities come back into balance.
An excellent example of polarity is found in the human body and is composed of the two nervous systems, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic sysytem dilates pupils, quickens and strengthens the action of the heart, decreases secretion of glands and lessens uterine contractions. The parasympathetic system contracts pupils,
slows and weakens the action of the heart, increases secretion of glands and increases uterine contractions. There are many other complementary functions of these two nervous systems, but the above functions illustrate what is meant by balance in the human body.
In grasping the concept of balance and its importance, we shall now consider what happens when a typical chemical fertilizer such as 6-24-12 is added to the soil. (6% nitrogen - 24% phosphorous oxide - 12% potassium oxide). These ingredients are water soluble and absorbed much too rapidly by the soil. The soluble phosphorous and potassium tip the balance in their favor and a true balance has been lost. Any food raised in that soil will not be in balance. Such unbalanced food will fill empty stomachs and sustain life but will not promote health.
If the soil truly needs phosphorous and potassium the phosphorous could be added as rock phosphate and the potassium as granite dust. In the rock form these ingredients are insoluble and only gradually become available to the soil. The slower availability permits a balance to be achieved.
Some of the other evils of a chemical fertilizer can be categorized:
1. The nitrogen pulls extra water into the food products such as apples, potatoes, tomatoes and makes them larger but less nutritious 2. Chemical fertilizers are acid, lowering the environmental conditions for earthworms, bacteria and other beneficial forms of soil life 3. They cause the soil to lose one of its most important attributes - structure 4. Finally, the chemical fertilizers cause a decline in quantity and quality of humus.
To consider the attainment of a truly organic soil, the following points must be considered:
1. The soil should be tested and brought into balance by the addition of appropriate organic fertilizers (water soluble) 2. The humus matter of the soil should be raised to a minimum of 2.5%. A higher amount would be better. This calls for the intelligent use of crop rotations, green manure crops, mulches, composts, etc. 3. Such a soil will then attract and be a home for many living organisms. It will have good structure, good moisture-retaining properties and be a truly living soil.
Now with a better understanding of what a truly organic soil is, it will be a simpler matter to understand what an organic food is. An organic food is food which has been raised on an organic soil. Hopefully, it would be a well-balanced food with minerals, vitamins and enzymes all in balance.
From a practical standpoint, sunshine, rain and weather cannot be ignored in considering a balance. There may not have been enough sunny days or there might have been too much or too little rain. The temperature might have been too hot or too cold. All of these factors have an influence on the final balance or quality in the food. So an organically raised food is not always of the highest quality due to weather conditions beyond our control. However, knowing', what it takes to develop an organic soil and what is required to raise organic food, we can strive for the best.