The Organic Revolution Essay

This essay has a total of 1600 words and 9 pages.

The Organic Revolution


"You are what you eat", or so they say. In today's supermarkets, organic foods are
everywhere. Not only are there organic fruits and vegetables, but there are also organic
dairy products, organic meats, organic convenience foods, organic wine, beer, coffee, tea
and even clothes made with organic cotton. All of these choices have made organic foods
the "fastest-growing segment of the grocery industry." The Organic Trade Association
(OTA), in its "Business Facts" fact sheet available at www.ota.com, cites Natural Foods
Merchandiser, a trade magazine, as measuring organic industry growth at 20 percent or
greater for the past nine years. Approximately two percent of the U.S. food supply is
grown using organic methods. In 2001, retail sales of organic food were projected to be
$9.3 billion (Organic Trade Association [OTA], 2001). That is nearly triple the $3.5
billion in sales in 1998 (Biocycle; Nov. 2004, Vol. 45 Issue 11, p27). Organic foods can
be found at natural food stores such as Whole Foods Inc., Wild Oats Inc., major
supermarkets, farmers markets as well as through "grower direct marketing" such as CSAs
(Community Supported Agriculture) or Co-Ops.

Many restaurant chefs and culinary related professionals across the country are starting
to use organic produce because they desire its superior quality and taste. Organic food,
also gaining international acceptance, has become widespread in nations like Japan and
Germany where the development of organic food markets has seen substantial growth (OTA,
2004)

People choose to "go organic" for different reasons but, the single most important reason
to choose certified organic foods is because organic agriculture in its very essence
preserves, protects and restores our environment in significant ways (United States
Department of Agriculture. [USDA], 2002). Also, organic farming embraces the principle
that agriculture must meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of
future generations, not to mention that organic foods are often the safest, freshest, most
flavorful and most nutritious foods in the marketplace (European Journal of Nutrition 40:
289-292 (2001)). The USDA has tried to emphasize that organic food is no healthier, and
adds no real benefits to a healthy lifestyle than regular foods. However, with the
contamination present in plants treated with pesticides, pre and post-harvest,
complications arise in our soil, lakes, rivers, groundwater and eventually in our own
bodies (National Resource Defense Council [NRDC], 2002).

Many of the chemicals used to grow and process food today have greatly expedited the
entire food production process. However, Researchers and Scientists in the past relied
solely on the efficiency aspect of the process with little regard to any long-term health
affects potentially resulting from the intake of such foods, especially with the younger
population whose immune system is more prone to ailment.

One of the main principles of organic farming is the cultivation of products without the
use of harmful chemicals and additives. This use of chemicals, both past and present, has
led to "Factory Farming," a popular term describing the mass quantities of food produced
throughout the twentieth century. The rise of these factory-produced foods caused the
decline of small scale and family owned farms. However, the more recent rise in awareness
and waves of environmentalism, organic farms, small and large are back on top and often
benefit local communities, land and especially the people who farm them (B.Wyland,
Personal Communication, 1, March, 2005).

The word Organic itself describes a way of growing food. It's a form of agriculture that
arose in the last century in response to the increasing use of synthetic and often toxic
chemicals to grow food. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a governmental
advisory panel to the National Organic Program, wrote this condensed definition of organic
farming in 1995:

"Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and
enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on
minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and
enhance ecological harmony….The principal guidelines for organic production are to use
materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that
integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole….The primary goal of
organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent
communities of soil life, plants, animals and people"(OTA, 2001).

Buddhists say that "a butterfly can flutter its wings in China and cause a tidal wave
halfway across the world" (Wyland, 2005). That means that every action matters and all
living things are interdependent. This theory is also known as the butterfly affect. The
exact same principle is embraced by organic farmers. Practices establishing and retaining
health and diversity will benefit all life on the farm. This is especially true without
the use of chemicals. Production enhancing chemicals may spawn more yields, but it
destroys the homeostasis of the soil, making it harder and harder for the soil to fulfill
its ecological niche in not only supporting the growth of plants but also supporting the
growth of surrounding wildlife (Wyland, 2005).

Organic food differs from conventionally produced food mainly in the way that it is grown,
but also in the ways that it is handled and processed. Production and farming operates on
many levels, and has brought new ways of food production that are quickly gaining
popularity. Each and every stage in the organic food production process must be controlled
and monitored to ensure that the organic standards are maintained all the way from the
farm to the consumer. Levels of production include: production, post-harvest processing,
and packaging.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established a set of national specifications that
foods labeled "organic" must meet, whether it is grown locally, in the United States or
imported from other countries. "After October 21, 2002, when you buy food labeled
"organic," you can be sure that it was produced using the highest organic production and
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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