Sustainable and organic are not interchangeable. Other than defining what organic food is, no official rules are present to make sure that organic food production or the organic farmers follow ecologically sound practices.
If you are part of the organic industry or simply interested in the organic way of life, it is wise to know about the restrictions of organic certification. You must be independently able to distinguish sustainable food and organic food. This will ensure that you can buy or sell organic food with confidence and can also educate in detail the interested organic consumers.
Sustainable is measurable but not official
The government certifies organic food. It does not certify whether a particular food item is sustainable or not. There is no official policy on this. The unofficial majority view is that sustainability is a kind of philosophy which describes actions taken to protect the planet. It could also be continued for an indefinite period of time without causing any kind of damage to the environment.
Do note that it is not possible to label any particular food as a “sustainable” one. Sustainable farming cannot be described as a philosophy. It can be measured and observed via social benefits and economic profit for a community. Environmental conservation is achieved.
Sustainable means small
The idea of sustainability means less is invariably more. It encompasses not only the farmland but also the things that one owns, including the home. Less land could be cultivated by a sustainable farmer for the growing of diverse crops. The soil quality is enhanced and land resources are conserved. It could mean that the farmer with an interest in sustainable farming could experiment with the vertical planting method or permit animals to graze away on cropland so that space could be saved.
In contrast, excess land could be used by the organic farmer and resources can be wasted. There are no government strictures on this aspect.
Sustainable and water efficiency
Government policies do not state that farmers must conserve the water resources. Sustainable processing and farming techniques try to conserve water as much as possible. Water could even be reclaimed for a few crops. There could be the planting of drought-resistant crop species and the usage of irrigation systems following reduced volume methods. Governments are not averse to allow reclaimed water for watering the crops.
Sustainable and energy efficiency
A majority of modern farms, including organic farms, along with food processing units are extremely dependent on petroleum and other non-renewable energy sources. In contrast, sustainable food processors and farmers understand that non-renewable energy cannot be used forever. Energy must be conserved now, and not in the later time. Please note that a sustainable food system could be partially dependent on a number of alternative energy sources like water, wind, and solar based power.
Sustainable and low emission
If you want to help in lower emissions, then sustainable food,and not organic, is the best way to go. This is because organic certification does not cover a number of issues like fossil fuel to be used for food transport or food production. A number of organic companies and organic food companies ship their organic food thousands of miles from the farm to the warehouse and then to the store and to the customer.
The ideal solution, in this case, is to eat organic food that is locally grown. This can be optimal for low emissions and good health. It is not possible for organic food to compete with sustainable food grown locally. It can only do so if the food is transported in vehicles other than fossil fuel consuming trucks.