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Organic Food for the Curious

Aug 28, 2008
Are you wondering what all the hype is about organic food? Do you actually know what it is? If you are interested in going organic, or just plain curious then read on...

The organic food industry has seen tremendous growth within recent years. Increased demand has led to increased production, creating a need for general standards and a legal definition of organic food.

Most countries have adopted their own laws and standards for uniformity within organic production and processing. This eliminates confusion while protecting consumers and manufacturers.

Organic Food Definition

Under most circumstances, organic foods are those grown without the use of synthetic (and often toxic) chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and other inputs. Livestock intended for domestic consumption is not given hormone injections (artificial growth), and is not given antibiotics as routine. Processing is also a chemical-free procedure.

Organic foods are produced and processed using techniques that benefit the whole environment; soil, water, air, animals and humans.

The Origin of Organic

The organic food market was around long before a legal definition of organic existed. Natural, chemical-free cultivation has been common practice for centuries among small farms. Before the recent increase in demand for organic products, local farms and markets were the only source for fresh organic food.

Today organic standards and certification laws regulate the market, ensuring consumers a product that is truly organic, but there are still many small farms that use strictly organic growing methods without certification. Not all organic farms can afford the costs of certification, meaning their foods will not bear the organic label although produced to the same standards.

What Foods are Organic?

When you think of organic food, fruits and vegetables are the items that typically come to mind. Now, there is much greater variety in the organic market. There are organic options for almost everything today! Organic meats; organic dairy products; organic grains for pasta and cereal; you can even find organic desserts, chocolate, beers and wines.

What is Certified Organic?

In most countries, foods grown and processed according to the set standards and regulations can apply for organic certification. The application process is quite costly and time-consuming. Certified organic farms must present reports regarding the land use for both the past and the future. Stringent records must be kept and annual on-site inspections are carried out to ensure quality and authenticity.

The organic label can only be displayed by manufacturers or growers that have passed government certification. This protects consumers as well as producers by creating expectations for any product considered organic.

The main certification body in the UK is the Soil Association. In the US it is the USDA.

What is Organic Farming and Production?

Organic standards and regulations govern all aspects of organic production, including both crops and livestock. The key to successful organic production is to use as few non-renewable resources as possible whilst promoting healthful practices for wildlife, soil, water, and air.

Organic farming involves synthetic chemical-free growing techniques using organic seeds. Crops are farmed without irradiation or the use of genetic modification. Organic foods enjoy chemical-free processing as well, without artificial (synthetic) additives, preservatives, or other ingredients.

In addition to freedom from the use of hormones and antibiotics mentioned above, animals reared for organic food production enjoy open spaces, spacious shelter and an organic diet. Consequently meat and dairy are free of synthetic chemical residues.

Organic food is a new term for natural products that have been around for centuries. Recent advancements in the organic market have brought global attention to the benefits of an organic diet, proven by research, and the laws put in place by most governments ensure consumers are getting a true organic product.
About the Author
Vic Errington has been researching organic food for many years. He and his wife, Alison, eat only organic and grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Visit their website at Organic Food For Everyone for organic food information, recipes, organic gardening guide, where to buy, and much more.
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