Friday, April 10, 2009

Organic Foods

Organic Foods
“Organic food is, in general, food produced without the use of artificial pesticide, synthetic fertilizers. In common usage, the word organic can apply equally to store-bought food products, food from a home garden where no synthetic inputs are used, and even food gathered or hunted in the wild”. However, the term organic is increasingly associated with certified organic foods, which are produced and labeled according to strictly regulated standards. Organic food sales have reached a double digit annual growth. Many people are realizing the importance of consuming organic food.
Many people turn to organic food because of concerns about pesticides. Around 350 pesticides are permitted in conventional farming and “the Soil Association says an estimated 4.5billion liters of them are used annually”. In terms of the environmental benefits, organic farms naturally promote biodiversity as the lack of herbicides and pesticides encourages wildlife. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use of artificial fertilizers, chemical toxins and genetically modified organisms. They’re not only safer, but they’re also more nutritious because of higher vitamin and mineral concentrations. That means you get more for your money. Organic fruits and vegetables usually taste better than commercially grown varieties.The more you know about the overall benefits of organic food, the better value it seems. Demand for organic food is increasing rapidly. “The National Cancer Institute states that 30% of insecticides, 60% of herbicides and 90% of fungicides are known to cause cancer. And that’s just one negative side effect”. These chemicals can also lead to damage of both the nervous and hormonal systems. Children are even more vulnerable than adults to these dangerous substances. “According to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, children fed conventional supermarket produce had six to nine times’ higher levels of pesticides in their blood than those fed organic foods.”
Organic food does not contain artificial additives, preservatives, colorings or flavorings, and no hydrogenated fats. Most of the additives that are used in regular food are not even necessary. There are some questionable substances in our food. Because of consumer demand, many supermarkets now carry a few organic foods. It is possible to find organic food at decent prices. A far cry from the farmers' markets and food co-op's of years ago, organic products are now marketed in major supermarkets across the country, and the industry is enjoying double-digit annual growth.
When most consumers think of organic food, dry, boxed cereals. These are the first of them that come to the mind. Now, we can get foods like wine, cooked food, etc. Because of mass marketing and health-conscious consumers, organic food is getting very common. U.S. organic food sales have grown between 17 and 21 percent each year since 1997, to nearly triple in sales, while total U.S. food sales over this time period have grown in the range of only 2 to 4 percent a year. According to the findings, organic food sales now represent approximately 2 percent of U.S. food sales. Organic foods are increasingly found in more mainstream retail establishments. In 2003, 44 percent of total organic food sales were handled through supermarkets and grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and club stores. Meanwhile, independent natural product and health food stores and natural grocery chains accounted for 47 percent of sales. (OTA’s 2004 Manufacturer Survey). Direct sales through farmers’ markets, co-ops, foodservice operations, and exports represent the remaining 9 percent.
“Organic food sales at the retail level totaled $10.4 billion, according to Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. This year, retail sales of organic foods are expected to exceed $15 billion — with more than $32 billion projected by 2009. While the conventional food industry still dwarfs the organic sector with $550 billion in yearly sales, it is producing an unappetizing 2 to 3 percent annual growth rate, while the organic industry has savored several years of 17 to 20 percent growth“. Wal-Mart and Costco are now among the 700 U.S. companies selling organic as well as conventional food products. With the help of the competition in organic food sellers, prices have dropped.
The organic industry is big and still growing. We will see it expending in the near future. There will be a time where we would be able buy organic food from any store. As we consume more organic food, we are more likely to contribute pesticide-free food plantation. The more each of us supports organics, the more active the economic cycles that will bring prices down.
1-Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2004 Manufacturer Survey.