Organic food is all the rage and sales have grown significantly in the last few years. Organic food and non-good sales topped $45 billion in the U.S. in 2017. You’ll find that your local health food store and grocery store will have organic produce in stock. However, some urban legends have appeared, and some grocers and consumers are not sure what to think. What are the truths and falsehoods surrounding organic groceries? We’ll compare what is sometimes said about organic food and what the truth is.
First, let’s define organic. Food that is organically grown typically does not use irradiation (ionized radiation), solvents or synthetic additives, or certain pesticides. Therefore, the food is naturally or organically grown.
All organic food grown and sold in the United States is required to meet federal standards put in place since 2002. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages federal standards for domestically grown and imported foods. The standards include the exclusion of pesticides with persistent toxicity in the soil and plants where organic food is grown. There can be no synthetic fertilizers or sewage used as fertilizer on these crops. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not allowed in organic food. Also, organic food produced from livestock are not given synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics.
Organic groceries, whether domestically or internationally grown must meet the same USDA federal standards.
Organically grown food is cost prohibitive. Because of the stricter regulations surrounding organic food, costs are higher for production and labor. Organic food is a small segment of the market and therefore does not have the same economic benefit of volume as does traditionally grown food. However, the price difference is negligible once organic groceries are in stock at your local grocer. The price the consumer pays for organic groceries is increasingly competitive due to the rising demand and the increase in supply to meet that demand.
Organic food is here today, gone tomorrow. Some people think organically grown food is a fad. The tradition of organic food, although not by the name “organic,” has been grown by farmers for thousands of years. It wasn’t until after World War 2 that synthetic chemicals became widely used in the growing and production of food. Today, however, due to a growing consensus for food without the same risks as chemically treated food, the market has grown substantially. By some estimates, the organic food market has grown 20 percent year-over-year for the last decade.
Organically grown food is not any more nutritional. A study done at Washington State University found that strawberries grown without pesticide use produce its own phytochemical insect repellant that was also found to enhance the nutritional value of the strawberries. Research continues on the benefits and nutritional value offered by phytochemicals in organic produce. Plus, these natural chemicals enhance the taste and flavor of food and one does not have to worry about consuming man-made synthetics, which may be harmful to one’s health.
Armed with knowledge about organic food, you can buy and consume with confidence.