It’s without question that organic food has become very popular over the years. Food which is considered ‘organic’ should have a “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal or label. This indicates that the item must have an ingredients list and the contents should be at least 95% (or more) certified organic. Food which is certified organic means it is free from synthetic additives such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones and dyes and also must not be processed using industrial solvents, genetic engineering or irradiation, according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Since the beginning of its rising popularity, positive research and studies on organic food exist but is still considered a very controversial and widely debated topic of discussion. This article is meant to provide you with what you need to know when it comes to organic foods.
How is Organic Food grown?
Organic agriculture is governed by strict government standards and requires food which has the organic label to be produced without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and dyes and also must not be processed using industrial solvents, genetic engineering or irradiation. Organic farmers rely on hand weeding, mechanical control, mulches, cover crops, crop rotation and dense planting to fully enrich the soil where their crops are grown as the soil plays a profound impact on what becomes produced. This enables the absorption of nutrients and a more delicious tasting and vitamin-enriched crop.
How is Organic Livestock raised?
As mentioned above, organic agriculture is governed by strict government standards when it comes to organic foods. This also applies to animals which also bear the organic label as organic farmers are to raise them without the use of antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones. Organic farmers must also provide the animals with 100% organic feed along with cage-free living conditions so they may roam freely without exposure to chemicals or pesticides.
How does Organic Food taste?
There are many studies which exist comparing the taste of organically produced food and conventionally produced food. Many of the studies are very consistent with the fact that there are no significant taste differences between organic food and conventional food. Several studies show that organic produce have a longer lasting shelf life compared to conventional produce due to the lower nitrate levels in organic produce. Despite the lower nitrate levels, increased vitamin C content and higher antioxidant levels in organic fruits and vegetables, this does not have an effect on taste. Research efforts and taste tests with organic food and conventional food are ongoing.
Is Organic Food more nutritious?
Existing evidence reveals that organically grown food contains more nutrients and has fewer nitrates than conventionally grown food. According to research performed by the Soil Association Certification Ltd. of the United Kingdom, organic crops were much higher in essential minerals, vitamin C and phytonutrients (plant compounds such as enzymes, antioxidants and bioflavonoids). Some researchers theorized that organically grown crops produced more antioxidants as a defense mechanism to combat against insects as they are typically grown without the use of pesticides. Through composting and cover cropping, the vast majority of nutrients from organic foods start from the nutrient enriched soil.
Is Organic Food in higher demand?
Sales deriving from organically grown food have soared dramatically over the past few years and continue to rise due to its high demand with consumers. According to the USDA, sales went from $3 billion in the late 1990’s to more than $10 billion in the early 2000’s. Sales of organic food have increased by 20 percent per year and about 10,000 farmers in America have transitioned to produce organic food covering 2.3 million acres of land according to the USDA’s Economic Resources Service.
These numbers demonstrate that organically grown food is in very high demand and the demand and this demand is likely to grow. Studies reveal that consumers view organically grown food as more healthy and nutritious in comparison to conventionally grown food products.
Why is Organic Food more expensive?
Grocery stores generally markup certified organic foods compared to their conventional counterparts. Take a look at the price tags of organically grown food versus conventionally grown food the next time you are at the grocery store. It’s no secret that certified organic foods are substantially more expensive than conventional foods and there are a number of reasons behind that. Here are some reasons as to why organically grown foods are more expensive than conventionally grown foods:
☐ Organically grown food is very high in demand, but limited in supply
☐ Production costs of organically grown food are much higher due to greater labor in smaller organic farms
☐ Organic farming is more time intensive than conventional farming.
☐ Organically grown food is generally cropped on natural compost and animal manure which does not contain sludge or chemical fertilizers
☐ Organic farm facilities and production methods must comply with specific standards and are subject to an annual inspection and certification fee
☐ Organic livestock typically have better living conditions and can cost up to twice as much as conventional livestock feed. Higher standards for animals mean higher costs for organic farms
☐ Organic crops typically take more time to be produced as chemicals and growth hormones are not used during the process
Take Home Message
Organically produced food (including livestock) has soared in sales and is very high in demand with consumers across North America. Thousands of conventional farmers have transitioned to produce organically grown food to try and meet the consumer demand. It’s no question that the popularity of organic foods exists and is still on the rise. I hope you have gained some valuable knowledge about organic foods after reading this article. Opting for organically produced food is a personal choice which will depend on its availability, price and your overall personal values.