Plenty of discerning consumers are well acquainted with the calculations you make while shopping for produce: Do you choose that sort of funny-looking or too-small apple over the perfectly round, robust one? The funny-looking one, after all, is organic, grown without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Farmers are also familiar with a similar calculation: Organically farmed crops can fetch higher prices, but they are less efficient to grow.
So goes the commonly held wisdom. A new study out of UC Berkeley contends that’s not true; organic farming stacks up much closer than previously realized to conventional farming when it comes to yields.
“This paper sets the record straight on the comparison between organic and conventional agriculture,” Berkeley Food Institute Co-Director Claire Kremen, lead author of the study, said in a statement.
“With global food needs predicted to greatly increase in the next 50 years, it’s critical to look more closely at organic farming.”