The World's Healthiest Foods are health-promoting foods that can change your life.

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What are the environmental benefits of organic farming over conventional farming methods?

Organically grown foods are cultivated using farming practices that can work to preserve and protect the environment.

Most conventional farming methods depend on a wide range of "off-farm inputs" for success. If the soil does not contain enough minerals, minerals are purchased from off the farm in the form of bagged synthetic fertilizers from a farm supply store. If there is not enough water available, irrigation pumps are installed and natural gas is used to run the pumps and irrigate the fields with groundwater. If insects are a threat to crops, pesticides are purchased from a supply store and sprayed to prevent crop infestation. These methods may result in successful crop production, but they do not result in sustainable use of resources. And in many cases, they can pose a risk to health by contaminating soil, water and air with levels of synthetic chemicals that cannot be readily absorbed by the earth.

Organic farming practices try to minimize "off-farm inputs" and seek to develop farming environment that is more self-contained. Along with the composting of plant materials, animals on the farm may be able to provide much of the necessary fertilizer in the form of composted manure. Crop rotation and the planting of cover crops may be able to improve soil nourishment. Avoidance of moldboard plowing may be able to help preserve soil integrity. Interplanting of crops may help reduce the need for pesticides as might biological balances in which natural predators take care of unwanted pests. Berms may help protect soil and plants from wind.

According to many experts in the field of resource conservation and global warming, changes in farming practices worldwide could very likely form a centerpiece for climate stabilization across out planet. Organic farming practices may be able to greatly reduce carbon emissions associated with production and transport of synthetic fertilizers, and carbon sequestration (retention) by agricultural land could be greatly increased through organic farming practices. By cutting down on carbon emissions and capturing more carbon in croplands themselves, organic farmers might be able to change U.S. agriculture from being a net emitter (releaser) of carbon into the atmosphere to a net retainer of carbon. That change might be able to help reverse the problem of humankind's ever-increasing carbon footprint.

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