What You Should Know About Organic Food
Organic food has taken the western world by storm over the last twenty years. In the United States alone, sales of organic foods have more than tripled over the last five years, as people have come to see the benefits for themselves and for the environment. However, what exactly is organic food? What are its benefits, and how should it be grown and raised?
To answer those questions, you first need to understand organic food production. Organic agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and crops using methods that do not involve use of pesticides or other chemicals. Organic farming is a method that emphasizes soil conservation and promotes biodiversity by means of proper crop rotation, soil renovation, and supplementation through insect control. Organic standards differ internationally, but organic production typically involves practices which rotate resources, encourage organic biodiversity, and preserve ecosystems. While there are currently no national regulations covering organic farmers’ practices, many states and municipalities have established ordinances that address issues such as pesticide runoff, water pollution, and the use of toxic fertilizers.
The term organic agriculture covers a broad range of practices. Organic farms must not employ synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals, nor can they cultivate genetically altered seeds. Grown organic foods must also be nourished with mineral and water soluble fertilizer and fertilizers, and the fields must be kept free of insect infestation and weed growth. Farmers must also provide access for nearby residents to receive the nutrients provided by the plants, and they must take measures to ensure that animal products do not accumulate contaminants in the fields. Organic farming does not use chemical fertilizers or hormones, nor does it employ the same agricultural practices used on conventional farms.
Since the production of fruits, vegetables, and other natural and organic foodstuffs does not meet conventional animal breeding methods, farmers in the organic food industry must rely on careful labeling to indicate that their product is organically produced. Organic certification must be applied to a variety of foods that are grown, processed, manufactured, and packed in various sizes, shapes, and forms. Some popular products that are sold as “organic” include: organic vegetables, organic dairy products, organic meats, organic fruits and other fruits and vegetables, and even organic poultry and eggs. Most organic foods that are labeled as “organic” are grown in soil that has been pesticide and chemical fertilizer free for a minimum of three years. Some organic food producers also utilize windbreaks, gecrops, or conservation areas in order to protect their crops from the adverse effects of seasonal weather.
One of the primary challenges of organic agriculture in the US is the lack of availability of non-food ingredients in the form of oils, fats, and salt. Since the production of non-food ingredients is more costly than food ingredients, farmers of organic food must produce them at a greater volume to compensate for the lack of easily available, affordable, and competitively priced food ingredients. In response to this problem, several organic food manufacturers have started adding synthetic food additives to organic foods, including artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, flavorings, and additional stabilizers. Many organic food producers in the US have also begun adding vitamins and minerals to their organic products, beginning with Vitamin A and moving on to Zinc. While the addition of these synthetic ingredients may help to decrease the cost of organic foods somewhat, the public at large is starting to view these additives as unnecessary and as potentially harmful to consumers. Some of the synthetic additives, such as dyes and preservatives have been found to increase the risk of developing cancer and certain types of cancers, even after long-term consumption.
Organic food retailers acknowledge that pesticides are still being used on a large scale in the United States. Because of this, many organic food manufacturers are purchasing products with lower levels of pesticides and herbicides, either by using natural or organic ingredients to build their products, or by using soil and runoff filters to reduce the amount of pesticides that reach the fruits and vegetables that are being grown. This is important for several reasons. First, organic food products often contain higher levels of antioxidant chemicals than non-organic foods do, because organic farmers do not use higher levels of chemical compounds on their farms. (Virtually all pesticides have some level of insecticide involved.)
Secondly, many people who are concerned about what goes into their bodies are turning away from non-organic foods. Studies have shown that eating organic produce has a significant effect on your likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer. The pesticides that are used on organic foods are far lower than those used on non-organic foods. That’s why many people feel better when they eat organic produce.
In conclusion, organic food is safer, easier, and much more cost effective than non-organic food. However, as long as the products are produced in compliance with organic farming methods, and as long as consumers understand what goes into the production of the product they buy, organic food will always be more affordable than the alternative. (You can learn more about making organic food at home by visiting our website listed below.) We recommend reading the latest book, “Caring For All Animals”, by Gary Null.