Organic farming and sustainable agriculture rely on the fundamental 'principle' of balance between beneficial and harmful insects. Under this principle of balance, the producer and consumer accept the presence of some insect pests and the damage they cause in order to reap the benefit of healthier food without the residue from harmful pesticides. Because harmful insects can literally consume a whole crop in a day or two if they are not controlled, beneficial insects that parasitize (feed on) harmful insects are used to control their numbers. A balance is ultimately achieved which keeps the number of harmful insects in check. Insects can often be plant disease vectors and their control can greatly reduce disease incidence in organic crops.
The national organic program rules do allow for use of natural products sprayed on food crops to control insects. Those are often essential oils and or oils such as Neem and other plant natural products which keep harmful insect populations low. We occasionally use such control agents as well.
However, some insect damage is not bad. Plants normally carry genes that help them defend themselves against many insects. The activation of these genes is often triggered by the feeding damage these insects cause, both above and below ground. Many of the compounds plant genes produce to fight or retard feeding by insects contribute directly to the taste of organic crops. These plant genes are there to protect the plants, but they also contribute to the unique taste we grow to appreciate about fresh organic crops that come from 'living soils'. Since many such flavor genes have been lost in varieties "bred" for the industry, we use heirloom varieties as much as possible. These often are the most pest resistant as well.
An additional benefit of consuming organic crops and crops grown on "living soils" is the health maintenance benefits associated with the natural products produced by plants to prevent or retard insect feeding damage. Though they have a plant protection role in nature, these natural plant products can often aid and boost our body’s defense mechanisms and can even have direct therapeutic and healing action on health conditions people can suffer from. Those are often referred to as 'functional foods'.