Ever wondered why organic foods are more expensive? Why organic foods are kept separately from the other food in a grocery store? Why some produce has special labels? The food all looks the same on the outside. An apple marked organic looks the same as any other apple in the produce section of the store. The difference is not the outward appearance but how the apple was grown and processed. The word organic gives the impression that the food will be safer and more nutritious to eat than food without the organic label. Many scientific studies have been done to find if there is a significant difference in safety and nutrition. The studies all conclude the same information. Organically grown foods are not any more nutritious or safer for consumption than conventionally grown, non-organic foods.
Many people are not clear regarding how organic and non-organic also known as conventionally grown food is grown in the United States. Organically grown food is grown and processed using no synthetic chemicals, such as fertilizers or pesticides (Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). Pesticides derived from natural sources, such as biological pesticides, can be used in growing and producing organically grown food (Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). Biological pesticides are bacteria or fungi that are applied to the plant to control bugs (Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). If raising livestock, the animals eat organic animal food (American Progress, 2008). Organic farming does not have adverse effects on animals and people. Using biological pesticides and fertilizers does not leave toxins or harmful residues in the environment (American Progress, 2008). These types of pesticides and fertilizers are considered to be environmentally friendly, unlike non-organic farming.
Non-organic or conventionally grown food is food grown with chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth. Insecticides are used to reduce pests and disease. Chemical herbicides are applied to soil to prevent and kill weeds. The animals are given antibiotics when sick. Growth hormones and medications are given to livestock to prevent disease and spur growth (Mayo Clinic, 2009). The two methods of farming are very different regarding farming techniques.
Farming techniques are the main factor that contributes to a food classification as organic or non-organic. Organic farming techniques are one reason the cost is higher than conventionally grown food. Organic farming uses crop rotation (American Progress, 2008). This is growing one type of food, then harvesting that food and planting a different crop in the same place. Crop rotation helps keep the soil fertile. Organic farmers rely on the spreading of mulch or manure to keep weeds down (Mayo Clinic, 2009). Organic farmers may use methods such a hand weeding as opposed to using herbicides sprayed on the entire crop. Organic farmers may use beneficial insects and birds to keep pests from destroying crops (American Progress, 2008). Organic farming is much like farming before all the technological advancements in farming that is used today in conventional farming. Organic farming is designed to reduce pollution and conserve soil and water (American Progress, 2008). Either way a farmer chooses to grow food, the food still has to pass all standards set up by the United States government.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set standards all food producers must adhere to and pass whether organically or conventionally grown. Food must be safe before it is sold to consumers. The National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. The NOP also accredits the certifying agents, both foreign and domestic, who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA standards (United States Department of Agriculture, 2010). The Organic Foods...
References: Agricultural Marketing Service. (2010). Agricultural Marketing Service – National Organic Program. Retrieved January 14, 2010, from http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOP
American Progress. (2008). Organic vs. Conventional Foods-The Gloves Come Off. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/09/organic_green.html
Encarta. (2009). natural food definition – Dictionary – MSN Encarta. Retrieved January 14, 2010, from http://www.encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861696699/natural_food.html
Environmental Protection Agency. (2009). Organic Farming/Agriculture/US EPA. Retrieved January 14, 2010, from http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/torg.html
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Organic Foods: Are they safer? More Nutritious? Retrieved January 13, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255
Organic Facts. (2010). Difference Between Organic and Natural Food | Organic Food Basics | Organic Food. Retrieved January 14, 2010, from http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-food/organic-food-basics/difference-between-organic-and-natural-food.html
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