To Be Or Not To Be Organic: That Is The Question

Everywhere you look in a supermarket there are items marked "organic". There is a lot of confusion at exactly what determines an item is organic food.

As consumers become more and more health conscious, organic food has increased in popularity exponentially. The future will see more and more products being marketed as organic food.

Where are organic foods found?

Organic foods can be found all over the world. Many people can find organically grown produce at their local farmers market as well as grocery stores. Organic foods are marked with a special USDA sticker certifying that the product is organically grown. Other countries employ a similar governing agency to regulate the growing procedures of animals, vegetables and fruits.

Why is there such an explosion of organic foods in grocery stores?

With medical technology keeping us living longer, there has been a renaissance of finding foods that are good for us. That includes vegetables, tomatoes and animal products that are free from possibly dangerous pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics.

Do all farmers have to have USDA seal of approval to label their foods organic?

No. Only farmers seeking certification through the USDA have the right to label their foods organic. If a non-organic grower markets their product as organic, huge fines can be given.

How does the USDA determine what constitutes organic food?

There is actually a very complex method to determine if a farmer or co-op can market their foods as organic. A division of the United States Department of Agriculture analyzes the composition of the land, record keeping, and a documentation of any herbal or chemical pesticides used on the plant, vegetable, fruit or animal.

After passing the certification to label the farm as "organic" the farmer can then be free to use the USDA Organic seal on its produce.

What price do consumers pay for organic foods?

Organic foods are higher in price in grocery stores than those that are not. Farmers must make more per pound than their competitors due to losing more crops to outside forces than the conventional farmer will.

Do organic foods contain pesticides?

Organic foods do not contain any man-made pesticides. There are some growers who use natural chemicals found in plants and insects to protect their crops.

Why is there such a controversy over organic growing?

The controversies that have arisen involve food shortages and the toll organic farming takes on the land. With larger tracts of land being used, and less being produced due to loss, there is a shortage of available food or any surplus to be sent to countries in need of aid.

Another debate is the use of pesticides found naturally in nature. Organic farming forbids the use of man-made pesticides. Unfortunately the naturally occurring pesticides are not regulated or tested to determine if they have long term harmful effects.

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