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Chelsea Green Blog

Organic Farming Study Is Well Grounded

You’ve heard the myths about organic farming: It’s more trouble. It’s more expensive. The yields are smaller. And the yields are, well, icky — spots and blemishes, hidden bugs, etc. I call them “myths” because guess what? They’re wrong. In a posting on the Web site of the environmental advocacy group Truth Out, writer Susan S. Long reports on the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, a 22-year study (that’s two decades plus, not a misprint), the results of which were published in the July issue of Bioscience magazine. The study, which Long describes as “the longest running comparison of organic vs. conventional farming in the United States,” analyzed the costs and benefits – environmental, energy and economic – of growing soybeans and corn organically versus conventionally. If one of the top organizations in the study of organic agriculture lacks sufficient credibility for you, the study itself was conducted with the assistance of scientists at Cornell University. Tack on the active participation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a University of Maryland agricultural economist, and the anti-organic-farming Luddites will soon run out places to stand. And (one would hope) to farm. The 22-year study offers plenty of numbers to crunch about the advantages of organic farming, perhaps the most salient of which are these: Thirty percent less fuel energy consumed; More efficient water usage; Less soil erosion and better soil quality, and; More conservation of biological resources. The report acknowledges that yields were lower during the first four years of the study. But as time went on, that trend was reversed. There are even implications for global warming: The Rodale study indicates that organic farming increases carbon storage in the soil by 15 to 28 percent. In this instance, that was the equivalent of taking almost two tons of carbon out of the atmosphere per year. More information about the study is available at the Web sites of Rodale, Cornell University, and Truthout Town Meeting. Oh, yes – did I mention that Chelsea Green Publishing Co is one of the most prolific publishers of books on organic gardening (how to do it, and why) in the country? But you already knew that.


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

Draft Power: The Life-Affirming Alternative to “Big Ag”

Farmers young and old are seeking new ways to shrink their carbon footprint and promote more ecologically friendly ways of getting chores done. So, what’s a modern farmer to do? For some, the centuries old approach of using draft animals—especially horses—is offering a very 21st century solution. Read More..

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More..

A Book for the Fruit Nerd on Your Holiday Gift List

Have a fruit enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year? Then give the gift that Booklist calls, “a thorough investigation of one wonderful fruit”—The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan.Sure cherries, plums, peaches, and other fruits have their unique qualities, but nothing quite compares to the pear’s luscious texture, richness of taste, and fragrance reminiscent […] Read More..

Unlock the Secret to the Perfect Salad with Soil Sprouts

As the weather gets colder and seasonal produce only means root vegetables, we begin to dream about fresh greens and colorful salads. Without a greenhouse or expensive equipment, it’s hard to imagine a reality in which you can have fresh and local greens every day. Luckily, Peter Burke has a method: in his book Year-Round Indoor […] Read More..
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