Organic food policies were created largely to provide a certification system with specific rules regarding production methods, and only products that follow the guidelines are allowed to use the certified organic labels. Instead, they produce more of their own protective compounds, namely antioxidants. What does organic food mean? Given economies of scale, big food-processing companies often buy from a single farming operation that produces organic crops on thousands of acres, rather than from many smaller farms that each grow on smaller acreages, a practice that effectively limits the participation of smaller farmers in these markets. While the regulations vary from country to country, in the U.S., organic crops must be grown must be grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, or bioengineered genes (GMOs). Organic food production is a self-regulated industry with government oversight in some countries, distinct from private gardening.Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification based on government-defined standards in order to market food as organic within their borders. The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. In simple terms, when you choose organic junk food, you may just be choosing a slightly higher-quality version of regular junk food. Although humans must decrease their reliance on fossil fuels to combat climate change, many organic policies do little to address the issue of sustainability, focusing instead on the strict list of prohibited substances, rather than a comprehensive long-term view of farming and food. In addition, principles of organic production in the EU are based on designing and managing farms to promote ecological systems and on using natural resources within the farming system. All rights reserved. Nowadays there are also many processed organic products available, such as sodas, cookies and breakfast cereals. Organic certification lets consumers know that every step along the supply chain has protected and maintained the … "Organic" is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. Indeed, yields of organic crops have been found to be about 25 percent lower overall than conventionally grown crops, although this can vary considerably depending upon the type of crop. The National Organic Program (NOP) was created by the USDA to describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA organic. This is because the nutrient content of food depends on many factors, such as soil quality, weather conditions and when the crops are harvested. This article reviews the paleo diet and whether…, The Sugar Busters Diet cuts out refined carbs and added sugars while focussing on healthier foods. It also means no meat or dairy … The organic seal of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Organically grown crops have also been shown to have lower levels of nitrate. Consuming organic food may also reduce your exposure to artificial chemicals, hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For example, organic cookies, chips, sodas and ice cream can all be purchased in supermarkets. Organic Foods: What You Need to Know What does "organic" mean? Specifically, organic produce must be grown without using any substance from the USDA's very long list of prohibited substances. strict standards fruits & veggies are grown without farm animals are raised without e the label 100% organic organic Means a minimum of Means 100 percent of the ingredients must be organic. It is important to note that the higher levels of cadmium and pesticide residue in conventionally grown produce were still well below safety limits (14). Although organic food production began as an alternative farming method outside the mainstream, it eventually became divided between two distinct paths: (1) small-scale farms that may not be formally certified organic and thus depend on informed consumers who seek out local, fresh, organically grown foods; and (2) large-scale certified organic food (fresh and processed) that is typically transported large distances and is distributed through typical grocery store chains. Organic producers rely on natural substances … If you decide to choose organic, it’s important to look for the USDA organic seal. This was comparable to eating 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables daily (6). While this strategy may bring economic gain in the short term, it is a concern when farmers are forced out of producing food crops that feed their local communities, thus increasing food insecurity. If consumers know their local farmer and trust the farmer’s production methods, they may not demand a certification label. The guidelines for organic foods were established on October 21, 2002 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. The composition of dairy products and meat can be affected by differences in animal genetics and animal breed, what the animals eat, the time of year and type of farm. For the organic standards “no GMOs” means no plant or animal can be used in organic food if it has a gene from another species that’s been put there by humans. In general, regulations surrounding organic food do not address more complex social concerns about family farms, farmworker wages, or farm size, and organic policy in some places does little to address animal welfare. The demand for organic foods and natural products has been on the rise for a while now. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the risk of exposure to pesticide residue in foods is small and unlikely to cause harm (16). Evidence suggests that consuming these foods may reduce your exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (11). Organic food may contain more antioxidants and nutrients than regular food, although the evidence is mixed. Sugar Busters Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss? (4) Again, these foods may include the “USDA Organic” stamp and/or a claim about being organic. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates organic production through its National Organic Program (NOP), which serves to facilitate national and international marketing and sales of organically produced food and to assure consumers that USDA certified organic products meet uniform standards. The market for organic food has grown significantly since the late 20th century, becoming a multibillion dollar industry with distinct production, processing, distribution, and retail systems. Organic milk and dairy products may contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly higher amounts of iron, vitamin E and some carotenoids (7, 9). However, the evidence is mixed. These operations may buy specific allowable inputs, such as fish emulsion or blood meal to use as fertilizer rather than working within the farm to increase soil fertility. In common usage, organic is used to mean “healthful” or “close to nature.” It can also describe foods grown without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Another label is “certified organic,” which means the food meets certain standards that a state in the US, the US or other countries have established as a definition of organic. Despite being organic, these products are still unhealthy. So understanding what “organic” really means can help shoppers make informed choices during their next visit to the store or farmers’ market. Yet this study also had limitations that may have caused the differences (24). This means avoiding all artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). An observational study comparing the nutrient intakes of nearly 4,000 adults consuming either organic or conventional vegetables found conflicting results. Research indicates that greater wealth and education levels are correlated with organic food purchases. Similar standards are enforced in Europe, Canada and Australia. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. This regulatory approach does not necessarily match consumers’ assumptions about organic food production, which typically include images of small family farms and the humane treatment of animals. It also reduces pollution and may be better for the environment. The USDA definition of organic food states that: Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Each country or continent has its own seal to help consumers identify organic food. And animal studies show that organic diets may benefit growth, reproduction and the immune system (7). Some of these products are still processed foods high in calories, sugar, salt and added fats. When 16 people followed an organic or conventional diet over two 3-week periods, those on the organic diet had slightly higher levels of certain antioxidants in their urine. Although certification subsidies exist in some places, such farmers often opt to sell directly to consumers at farmers’ markets, for example, and may decide to forgo organic certification altogether. The popularity does not seem to be slowing down, as sales increased by more than 11% from 2014 to 2015 (1). However, sugar is still sugar. NOW 50% OFF! Display of organic produce at an outdoor farmers' market. The “Canada Organic • Biologique Canada” mark is a small symbol that carries a big message. To this end, NOP established three specific labels for consumers on organic food products: “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ***,” which signify that a product’s ingredients are 100 percent, at least 95 percent, or 70 percent organic, respectively. The most commonly purchased organic foods are fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. The natural variations in the production and handling of foods make comparisons difficult. Processed organic food can still be low in nutrients and high in added fat, sugar and calories. The National Organic Program (NOP) is the federal regulatory framework governing organically produced crops and livestock. Organic farming is expanding everywhere....organic fruit and vegetables. Organic junk food is still junk food. Although a slightly higher intake of certain nutrients was seen in the organic group, this was most likely due to higher overall vegetable consumption (12). To identify organic food, look for the appropriate seal or a statement like one of the three examples above. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that these studies vary quite widely in their results. This article reviews the Sugar Busters Diet and…, The Ornish Diet is a popular diet plan that promises to help reverse chronic disease and enhance health. Certified organic agriculture has also become a big business in many places, with larger farming operations playing a key role in national and global certified organic food markets. Professor of Geography and Environmental Resources and Director of Environmental Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set up an organic certification program. The most common label, “Organic,” means that 95-100% of the ingredients in that food are organic. This article tells you whether some vegetarians eat eggs. The term "organic" is officially defined and controlled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Therefore, the results of these studies must be interpreted with caution. This article reviews the Ornish Diet…. It also represents good health, nutritious food and environmentally-beneficial practices. Organic farming practices are designed to meet the following goals: Enhance soil and water quality Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. What’s more, one study reported that replacing regular fruit, vegetables and cereals with organic versions could provide extra antioxidants in the diet. This article objectively compares organic and non-organic foods, including their nutrient content and effects on human health. More nutritious? A review of 67 studies found that organic meat contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly lower levels of saturated fats than conventional meat (10). This sometimes generates a situation in which the farmers themselves cannot afford to buy the organic foods they are producing. Further, there are trends in some lower-income countries to produce certified organic crops solely for export to wealthier countries. The majority of the population consumes too much sugar already. In fact, US consumers spent $39.1 billion on organic produce in 2014 (1). A regulatory framework is most important when consumers and farmers are geographically separated, and such a framework is likely to cater to larger-scale producers who participate in a more industrial system. However, the USDA organic seal on meats does mean a few other things that may be important to you. Objectives of organic farming in the European Union (EU) include respecting nature’s biological systems and establishing a sustainable management system; using water, soil, and air responsibly; and adhering to animal welfare standards that meet species-specific behavioral needs. 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