larger (2.4%). What is remarkable about Organic is not how fast it isgrowing in real terms. What is remarkable is how SMALL thissegment is considering that it enjoys a substantial price premium,extensive marketing, wide-spread media and celebrity support, andthe implied government endorsement of “USDA Organic”certification. Considering the “buzz” around Organic it isremarkable how small it remains, but in practice it is very difficult toproduce economically viable crops in many regions under therestrictions of the Organic guidelines. At its historical growth rate,Organic will still only represent a small percentage of US cropland in2050. Organic is a niche and will remain so.
Myth 3: Organic food is better for the environment because itdoes not use synthetic fertilizers
In 1918, German scientist Fritz Haber received the Nobel Prize forhis contribution to the new process by which a bit of the 80%nitrogen gas in the atmosphere is converted to forms of nitrogenthat plants can use. That technology has enabled vast increases inagricultural production and much higher protein diets for much of humanity. The process is energy intensive as it takes about 1 lb of fossil carbon emissions to make every lb of nitrogen for crops. Thisis indeed one of the largest energy and carbon “footprints” of themodern agricultural system, but the world could not be fed withoutit. A common claim for organic is that it avoids this greenhouse gas“footprint” by using legume crops and “natural” fertilizers based onanimal manures and other animal by-products. (“Conventional”agriculture also generates some of its nitrogen from rotations withlegume crops, e.g the standard corn/soybean rotation of theAmerican Midwest). The problem is partly that there is only somuch manure, but also that manure is a problematic fertilizer. Ittends to have more phosphate than needed relative to nitrogen so