TED Conversations

Sydni Rucks


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What are ecosystem services that you rely on everyday? Are you willing to pay for them?

Ecosystem services are what we gain from an ecosystem, be it medicines, clean water, or any cultural and spiritual benefits we get from nature. Ecosystem services are not specific to the science realm and they are open to interpretation based on our individual views. What ecosystem services do you value?

Although ecosystem services have monetary value, determining pricing has proven challenging. For example, every time you shop for produce, you can choose to support the ecosystem services offered by organic farming. There has been a boom in the organic foods market due to the ever-growing assumption that organic farming methods contribute to ecosystem services including increased pollination (bee populations are higher due to larger production of flowers on organic farms), increased biodiversity, natural pest control, and natural soil fertility. Are these methods worth the extra cost at the grocery store? What factors do you consider when making your choice between conventionally and organically grown produce? What are ways to promote organic farming, or more generally the valuation of ecosystem services, so that more people will be inspired to pay for the benefits?


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  • May 2 2012: When it comes to the consumption of organically grown produce vs. non-organically grown produce, I generally buy organic. This reason is not only due to the ecosystem services that may be provided by growing products this way, but also due to the fact that pesticides used in non-organic farming can cause certain health problems. I find that when I eat certain types of fruits, it is more common for me to experience some type of allergic reaction to non-organically grown fruits than organically grown. Wheather this is due to the types of pesticides used in the growth process is unknown to me. Organic produce is also usually grown more locally which is beneficial to our communities.

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