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Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic within their borders. In the context of these regulations , organic food is produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by regional organizations, national governments and international organizations. Fertilizing and the use of pesticides in conventional farming has caused, and is causing, enormous damage worldwide to local ecosystems , biodiversity, groundwater and drinking water supplies, and sometimes farmer's health and fertility.
These environmental, economic and health issues are all minimized or avoided completely in organic farming. From a consumers perspective, there is not sufficient evidence in scientific and medical literature to support claims that organic food is safer or healthier to eat than conventionally grown food. While there may be some differences in the nutrient and antinutrient contents of organically- and conventionally-produced food, the variable nature of food production and handling makes it difficult to generalize results.
For the vast majority of its history, agriculture can be described as having been organic; only during the 20th century was a large supply of new products, generally deemed not organic, introduced into food production. In , Lord Northbourne coined the term organic farming in his book Look to the Land , out of his conception of "the farm as organism," to describe a holistic, ecologically balanced approach to farming—in contrast to what he called chemical farming, which relied on "imported fertility" and "cannot be self-sufficient nor an organic whole.
Their respective use affects humus content of soil. This class of molecules includes everything likely to be considered edible, and include most pesticides and toxins too, therefore the term "organic" and, especially, the term "inorganic" sometimes wrongly used as a contrast by the popular press as they apply to organic chemistry is an equivocation fallacy when applied to farming, the production of food, and to foodstuffs themselves.
Properly used in this agricultural science context, "organic" refers to the methods grown and processed, not necessarily the chemical composition of the food.
Ideas that organic food could be healthier and better for the environment originated in the early days of the organic movement as a result of publications like the book The Living Soil   and Farming and Gardening for Health or Disease In the industrial era, organic gardening reached a modest level of popularity in the United States in the s.
In the s, environmentalists and the counterculture championed organic food, but it was only in the s that a national marketplace for organic foods developed. Early consumers interested in organic food would look for non-chemically treated, non-use of unapproved pesticides, fresh or minimally processed food.
They mostly had to buy directly from growers. Later, "Know your farmer, know your food" became the motto of a new initiative instituted by the USDA in September Small farms grew vegetables and raised livestock using organic farming practices, with or without certification, and the individual consumer monitored. However, for supermarket consumers, food production is not easily observable, and product labeling, like "certified organic," is relied upon.
Government regulations and third-party inspectors are looked to for assurance. In the s, interest in organic food grew with the publication of Silent Spring  and the rise of the environmental movement , and was also spurred by food-related health scares like the concerns about Alar that arose in the mids. Organic food production is a self-regulated industry with government oversight in some countries, distinct from private gardening.
Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification based on government-defined standards in order to market food as organic within their borders. In the context of these regulations, foods marketed as organic are produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organic industry trade organizations.
In the United States, organic production is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act of OFPA and regulations in Title 7, Part of the Code of Federal Regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.
Processed organic food usually contains only organic ingredients. Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives , and are often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions, such as chemical ripening , food irradiation , and genetically modified ingredients. To be certified organic, products must be grown and manufactured in a manner that adheres to standards set by the country they are sold in:.
In the United States, there are four different levels or categories for organic labeling. This means that all ingredients are produced organically. It also may have the USDA seal. Three of the organic ingredients must be listed under the ingredient section of the label. There is widespread public belief that organic food is safer, more nutritious, and better tasting than conventional food,  which has largely contributed to the development of an organic food culture.
Consumers purchase organic foods for different reasons, including concerns about the effects of conventional farming practices on the environment, human health, and animal welfare. The most important reason for purchasing organic foods seems to be beliefs about the products' health-giving properties and higher nutritional value.
In China the increasing demand for organic products of all kinds, and in particular milk, baby food and infant formula, has been "spurred by a series of food scares, the worst being the death of six children who had consumed baby formula laced with melamine " in and the Chinese milk scandal , making the Chinese market for organic milk the largest in the world as of There is no good evidence that organic food tastes better than its non-organic counterparts.
Some foods, such as bananas, are picked when unripe, are cooled to prevent ripening while they are shipped to market, and then are induced to ripen quickly by exposing them to propylene or ethylene , chemicals produced by plants to induce their own ripening; as flavor and texture changes during ripening, this process may affect those qualities of the treated fruit.
With respect to chemical differences in the composition of organically grown food compared with conventionally grown food, studies have examined differences in nutrients , antinutrients , and pesticide residues. Many people believe that organic foods have higher content of nutrients and thus are healthier than conventionally produced foods.
A systematic review found that organically produced foodstuffs are not richer in vitamins and minerals than conventionally produced foodstuffs. Content of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, total soluble solids, copper, iron, nitrates, manganese, and sodium did not differ between the two categories. A survey of the scientific literature did not find significant differences in the vitamin content of organic and conventional plant or animal products, and found that results varied from study to study.
Few studies examined vitamin content in meats, but these found no difference in beta-carotene in beef, alpha-tocopherol in pork or beef, or vitamin A retinol in beef.
The authors analyzed 11 other nutrients reported in studies of produce. A literature review found that organic foods had a higher micronutrient content overall than conventionally produced foods. Similarly, organic chicken contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids [ citation needed ] than conventional chicken.
The authors found no difference in the protein or fat content of organic and conventional raw milk. A systematic review and meta-analysis found that organic meat had comparable or slightly lower levels of saturated fat and monounsaturated fat as conventional meat, but higher levels of both overall and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The amount of nitrogen content in certain vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and tubers , has been found to be lower when grown organically as compared to conventionally. The amount of pesticides that remain in or on food is called pesticide residue. In the United States, before a pesticide can be used on a food crop, the U. Environmental Protection Agency must determine whether that pesticide can be used without posing a risk to human health.
This result was statistically heterogeneous, potentially because of the variable level of detection used among these studies. Only three studies reported the prevalence of contamination exceeding maximum allowed limits; all were from the European Union. The American Cancer Society has stated that no evidence exists that the small amount of pesticide residue found on conventional foods will increase the risk of cancer, although it recommends thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables.
They have also stated that there is no research to show that organic food reduces cancer risk compared to foods grown with conventional farming methods. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains strict guidelines on the regulation of pesticides by setting a tolerance on the amount of pesticide residue allowed to be in or on any particular food.
In addition, as the commodities are washed and processed prior to sale, the residues often diminish further. A meta-analysis determined that prevalence of E. While bacterial contamination is common among both organic and conventional animal products, differences in the prevalence of bacterial contamination between organic and conventional animal products were also statistically insignificant.
Organic meat certification in the United States requires farm animals to be raised according to USDA organic regulations throughout their lives. These regulations require that livestock are fed certified organic food that contains no animal byproducts. Irradiation and genetic engineering are not allowed with organic animal production. There is little scientific evidence of benefit or harm to human health from a diet high in organic food, and conducting any sort of rigorous experiment on the subject is very difficult.
A meta-analysis noted that "there have been no long-term studies of health outcomes of populations consuming predominantly organic versus conventionally produced food controlling for socioeconomic factors; such studies would be expensive to conduct. Antioxidant status and activity are useful biomarkers but do not directly equate to a health outcome. Of the remaining two articles, one recorded proxy-reported measures of atopic manifestations as its primary health outcome, whereas the other article examined the fatty acid composition of breast milk and implied possible health benefits for infants from the consumption of different amounts of conjugated linoleic acids from breast milk.
As of , the scientific consensus is that while "consumers may choose to buy organic fruit, vegetables and meat because they believe them to be more nutritious than other food The main difference between organic and conventional food products are the chemicals involved during production and processing. The residues of those chemicals in food products have dubious effects on human health.
All food products on the market including those that contain residues of pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones and other types of chemicals that are used during production and processing are said to be safe. Claims of improved safety of organic food has largely focused on pesticide residues.
This possibility is practically impossible to study and quantify;" therefore firm conclusions about the relative safety of organic foods have been hampered by the difficulty in proper study design and relatively small number of studies directly comparing organic food to conventional food. Their work attempts to fill in the gaps in our scientific knowledge of the carcinogenicity of all chemicals, both natural and synthetic, as the scientists conducting the Project described in the journal, Science , in Toxicological examination of synthetic chemicals, without similar examination of chemicals that occur naturally, has resulted in an imbalance in both the data on and the perception of chemical carcinogens.
Three points that we have discussed indicate that comparisons should be made with natural as well as synthetic chemicals. Nevertheless, the public tends to view chemicals as only synthetic and to think of synthetic chemicals as toxic despite the fact that every natural chemical is also toxic at some dose.
Thus, we estimate that However, defenses that animals have evolved are mostly general rather than specific for particular chemicals; moreover, defenses are generally inducible and therefore protect well from low doses of both synthetic and natural chemicals. Therefore, because humans are exposed to so many more natural than synthetic chemicals by weight and by number , humans are exposed to an enormous background of rodent carcinogens, as defined by high-dose tests on rodents. We have shown that even though only a tiny proportion of natural pesticides in plant foods have been tested, the 29 that are rodent carcinogens among the 57 tested, occur in more than 50 common plant foods.
It is probable that almost every fruit and vegetable in the supermarket contains natural pesticides that are rodent carcinogens. While studies have shown via chemical analysis, as discussed above, that organically grown fruits and vegetables have significantly lower pesticide residue levels, the significance of this finding on actual health risk reduction is debatable as both conventional foods and organic foods generally have pesticide levels well below government established guidelines for what is considered safe.
A study published by the National Research Council in determined that for infants and children, the major source of exposure to pesticides is through diet. In this study it was found that levels of organophosphorus pesticide exposure dropped from negligible levels to undetectable levels when the children switched to an organic diet, the authors presented this reduction as a significant reduction in risk. More specifically, claims related to pesticide residue of increased risk of infertility or lower sperm counts have not been supported by the evidence in the medical literature.
In looking at possible increased risk to safety from organic food consumption, reviews have found that although there may be increased risk from microbiological contamination due to increased manure use as fertilizer from organisms like E. H7 during organic produce production, there is little evidence of actual incidence of outbreaks which can be positively blamed on organic food production.
H4 outbreak was blamed on organic farming of bean sprouts. From an environmental and economical perspective, fertilizing , overproduction and the use of pesticides in conventional farming has caused, and is causing, enormous damage worldwide to local ecosystems , biodiversity, groundwater and drinking water supplies, and sometimes farmer's health and fertility.
Demand for organic foods is primarily driven by concerns for personal health and for the environment. Production and consumption of organic products is rising rapidly in Asia, and both China and India are becoming global producers of organic crops  and a number of countries, particularly China and Japan, also becoming large consumers of organic food and drink.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about food that complies with the standards of organic farming. For food advertised as "natural", see natural foods. Further information on the production of organic food: List of countries with organic agriculture regulation.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. Food portal Health portal Agriculture portal Sustainable Development portal. University of California, Berkeley. Organic foods are not necessarily pesticide-free. Organic foods are produced using only certain pesticides with specific ingredients. We have a range of colours and prints to suit everyone.
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