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ORGANIC

FOOD
healthy and beneficial
however, will provide
enough information
for one to make a
confident decision
on whether or not they may
choose organic foods on their next
trip to the grocery store.

I N TRODU C TI O N
The demand for more healthful,
organic foods has increased in
popularity for the average
American diet. An expanding
amount of different products and
produce have become more
available in supermarkets, grocery
stores, and even some restaurants.
This trend is illustrated by the
Organic Trade Association who
stated organic fruits and
vegetables, which represent 38
percent of total organic food sales,
reached nearly $9.5 billion in
sales in 2009, up 11.4 percent
from 2008 sales. Most notable,
organic fruits and vegetables now

represent 11.4 percent of all U.S.


fruit and vegetable sales. With
this increase in popularity,
consumers want more information
on the differences between
organic and conventional foods.
There are many skeptics who do
not believe that there are
significant nutritional benefits to
spending a little bit
more money on
nonconventional
harvested
products. The
following
information,

What does organic


mean?
The term organic refers to the
specific system that requires
products to be made without the
implementation of chemical
fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides,
or antibiotics. Each country has
their own standards for what can
be labeled as organic. In the
United States, the National
Organic Program (NOP) regulates
which businesses and products
qualify as organic. Unlike
conventional produce and
products, organic farmers utilize
natural fertilizers such as manure
or compost to feed plants and use
beneficial insects or birds to
prevent pests and disease instead
of toxic pesticides. When it
comes to preventing weeds from
damaging crops, organic farmers
will rotate crops, till, hand weed,
or mulch the weeds as opposed to
using herbicides.
In addition to the NOPs organic
produce standards, there are
specific guidelines that organic
livestock are must be raised and
cared for by. The Organic Trade
Association provides a fact sheet

contrasting organic and


conventional livestock practices.
Some differences include how of
the law prohibits the use of
growth hormones, genetic
engineering, and toxic pesticides
on organic livestock yet there are
no enforced restrictions on the use
of antibiotics in conventional
agriculture. By law, the livestock
must also be fed only 100-percent
organic meals while having access
to the outdoors.
How do you know its
organic?
An article on healthy eating by the
Mayo Clinic, explains that food
must be produced and processed
by strict USDA standards in order
to bear the Organic seal. If a label
is used on a certain product that
has more than one ingredient, it
means that the product is 95%
organic. It is also important to
note that products and produce
promoted as natural does not
mean that they are organic. An
official seal will be displayed on
the product if it is organic.

What about the price of


organics?
As consumers, the main deterrent
from switching to an organic
lifestyle is the higher cost for
organic produce and products.
Most conventional products are
priced lower than their counter
parts because their farming
techniques are less expensive.
Nonetheless, the increase in

demand for organic foods is


resulting in a decrease in prices.
In the article by Michael Pollan,
An Organic Chicken in Every
Pot, he states that organic
options will soon be accessible for
almost any budget now that the
Wal-mart grocers will be carrying
organic foods. Pollan argues that
this change will single-handedly
upend the argument that organic
food is elitist.
Are organic foods better
for you than
conventional foods?
An increasing amount of research
proves that the extra dollar or two
may have significant personal
health benefits. Magazines and
journals have published multiple
findings that organically produced
fruits are remarkably more
nutrient dense and contain more
minerals than those fruits that are
grown conventionally.
Research studies have shown
evidence that organic foods have
more antioxidants than
conventional foods. An example
of this was published in Journal
of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry; In the study,
researchers led by food scientist
Alyson Mitchell compared the
antioxidant levels in corn,
strawberries and marionberries
grown organically, sustainably
(using fertilizer but no herbicides
or pesticides) and conventionally.
Antioxidant levels in sustainably
grown corn were 58.5 percent
higher than conventionally grown
corn, while organically and
sustainably grown marionberries
had approximately 50 percent
more antioxidants than
conventionally grown berries.

Sustainably and organically


grown strawberries had about 19
percent more antioxidants than
their conventional counterparts.
The findings were published in
the Feb. 26, 2003, print edition of
the American Chemical Society
peer-reviewed Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The study also showed
sustainably grown and organic
produce had more ascorbic acid,
which the body converts to
vitamin C.
How do organic practices
benefit the environment?
Since organic farming prohibits
the use of pesticides and
fertilizers, it benefits the
environment by sustaining the
ecosystem, using less energy and
producing less waste. Toxic
pesticides can cause water
pollution, climate changes,
reduced biodiversity and may
even increase ones risk of certain
cancers.
As well as preventing pollution,
the chic ecologist describes how
organic farming decreases the
amount of carbon dioxide in the
air, uses less energy (since
pesticides and fertilizers arent
used), and helps preserve the
vitality and productivity of soil.
Conclusion
With increasing amounts of new
research that illustrates the
significant health advantages of
consuming organic-grown food
and the ecological benefits that
are reaped from non-conventional
farming, it can be determined that
the price one pays for organic is
worth every penny.