What is Organic Food?
Organic food refers to food items that are prepared according to the norms set by an organic certifying body. On an overall basis, organic food is food prepared and processed without using any chemicals. That is, organic food production does not involve the use of chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides, or chemical preservatives.
The USDA categories food products into the following sections:
100% organic: Must contain 100% organically produced ingredients.
Organic: Must contain at least 95% organic ingredients.
Made of organic ingredients: Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.
Have some organic ingredients: May contain less than 70% organic ingredients.
Is Organic Food Good for Health?
Normally people believe that organic food is better for your health than conventional food. However, the USDA and the FDA clearly state that conventional food is as healthy as organic food. Scientific research has also not been able to prove that organic food is healthier than conventional food. The exceptions are organic milk and organic tomatoes. Recent studies on organic milk and organic tomatoes have shown that these food products are healthier than non-organic milk and non-organic tomatoes, respectively.
Does Organic Food Taste Better?
No research has shown that organic food tastes better than non-organic food. However, people strongly feel that organic food tastes much better than non-organic food.
Where Can I Buy Organic Food?
Some of the best avenues for buying organic food are given below:
- Directly from an organic farm
- Local organic food markets
- Natural and organic food stores
- Health food stores
- Retail chains such as Walmart or Whole Foods
- Conventional stores that also stock organic food
Do Companies Deliver Organic Food Online?
Yes, there are many companies that provide home deliveries through online shopping, which is becoming an increasingly popular way of acquiring organic food.
How Do I Know Something is Organic?
Organic food can be identified with the help of an organic logo on the packet. Companies, farmers, manufacturers, and suppliers, which follow all the norms set by a certifying body of their region, can put a logo of that certifying body on their food items.
Are Organic Food Standards the Same for All Food Products?
No, since the mode of production and processing is different for different food items, the standards are also different. For example, the standards for organic honey production are different from the standards for organic milk production or organic coconut oil production.
Are Organic Food Standards the Same in all Countries?
No, organic food standards vary from region to region. Some countries may follow a uniform set of codes. For example, about 18 countries follow the rules set by the International Olive Oil Council for organic olive oil production. However, there are some countries such as the US, which have their own standards for organic olive oil production.
Should I look for the word organic on the food item?
Yes, you should look for the word “Organic”. However, you should also check the logo of the certifying body.
Can someone sell non-organic food claiming that it is organic food?
It is illegal to sell non-organic food with an organic label. However, there have been cases of fraud before, which when brought to the attention of the authorities, have been dealt with strongly. Therefore, you should always check the logo of the certifying body properly and you should buy organic food items that have an authentic label on them.
Does organic food cost more than conventional food?
Yes, organic food normally costs 20% to 100% more than non-organic food.
Why does organic food cost more?
Organic food production is generally labour-intentsive and involves the use of organic fertilizers and organic pesticides, which are more expensive than chemical fertilizers and pesticides. That is why organic food costs more.
Is organic food the same as natural food?
No, organic food refers to food items prepared without using chemicals. Natural food refers to food items that are only minimally processed.
Can I produce organic food in my garden?
Yes, you can produce organic food in your garden. Organic gardening is a very common hobby for many people.
Do I need to take permission for producing organic food?
No, you do not need any permission to produce organic food. You can produce organic food and eat it without any permission. However, if you intend to sell this organic food, you need to follow the guidelines set by a certifying agency and get approval from them for using their logo.
Is organic food safe for children?
Many parents believe that organic food is safer for their children, since it does not contain any chemical pesticides and fertilizers. However, there is no scientific research to prove this.
Does organic food contain more nutrients?
So far, scientific research has proven this only for organic milk and organic tomatoes. Organic milk has more omega-3, CLA, vitamins, and antioxidants than non-organic milk. Similarly, organic tomatoes have more antioxidants than non-organic tomatoes. Recent research suggests that choosing organic food can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals.
Does organic food production involve animal welfare?
Yes, animal welfare is an important aspect of organic food production. Animals raised through organic means have to be kept in the open for a specified amount of time. There are guidelines for the general care of the animals as well.
Is organic food free of pesticides and fertilizer residues?
Organic food production does not involve the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, biological pesticides and biological fertilizers can be used for organic food production. Residues of these bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers may be present in organic food.