Organic Food As a Fast-Growing Segment of US Agriculture

Lately organic food is gaining popularity, the trend being stable for at least five years. The recent research conducted by the Food Marketing Institute provides proof that majority of American citizens buy organic food at least once a month.

This segment of US agriculture shows rapid growth. Only in 2007 organic food retailers earned more than 20 billion dollars. The annual growth of organic dairy industry is estimated to be 18 percent by the year 2010.

Let us have a look at the main idea beneath organic food production, i.e. using materials and practices that could improve the ecological balance of natural systems. We cannot be absolutely sure that organic products are free of residues yet there are best practices involved in production that are directed at minimizing pollution from air, soil and water. And organic food production is controlled y strict state and federal standards, too.

Thus mostly people tend to treat organic food as that which is devoid of fertilizers or pesticides. Nonetheless the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labelled food as organic if it is 95 percent pure.

Sometimes products contain only 70 percent of organic materials or even less. This kind of food cannot be called organic but it can be labelled “made with organic ingredients”. Thus you should differentiate between these forms of products at the supermarket.

De facto non-organic practices in the USA release more than one billion pounds of pesticides. The USDA’s tests prove that organic products contain three or four times less pesticide residues than in conventionally produced fruits and vegetables.

And conventional practices in agriculture can result in water contamination. According to Environmental Working Group’s research that was conducted back in 1955 across the Corn Belt, in Louisiana and Maryland, scientists concluded that tap water pesticide contamination was at health risk levels. The solution was in organic farming methods, as well as developing the soil.

It is important to notice that the term organic has another meaning than organic. Sometimes food producers seeking higher sales and good reputation make tricks by labelling their food as natural as it does not comply to organic food standards.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows using the term natural for food that does not contain any added colourings, artificial ingredients or synthetic substances.

That is why more and more non-organic producers try to present their products as good for health and thus, in 2008, about one third of all new US food and beverage products were labelled with the word “natural”.