Sunday, January 16, 2011

Organic Food (Informative Essay) (Sources Included)

The Truth About Organic Food
Organic foods are defined as foods without pesticides, antibiotics, or genetically altered organisms (Organic Foods).  Organic farming began in the late 1940’s in the United States, and in recent years it has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.   Sales for organic foods in the past decade have increased annually by 20%.  Its 20% growth is ten times as much as non-organic food’s growth (Wikipedia).  Organic food makes up only a fraction of the food market even though there are over ten million consumers. The sales of organic foods are expected to climb to over 6 billion dollars within the upcoming years.  Soil is also a crucial component of the organic process.  Soil is said to be organic when it has been deemed “clean” for three years.
              One of the problems with the organic food industry is that it is vastly misunderstood.  The majority of the public believes that organic foods are not only safer but better for the environment.  Organic farming does have its advantages. It conserves water and soil resources, recycles animal waste, releases fewer chemicals, improves soil fertility, promotes diversity of crops, and protects farm workers, livestock, and wildlife from potentially harmful pesticides.  These advantages often overshadow the negatives.
Organic food farmers use the misconceptions that organic foods are safer, better for the environment, and healthier overall to their economic advantages (IFOAM).  The prices for organic foods are largely inflated because of the idea that they are healthier but in reality organic foods serve no greater nutritional value than their less hyped non-organic counterpart. The cost of organic foods can be 20 percent to 50 percent more than conventional foods.  The mark up in price comes from the limited supply, special care taken to abide my legalities, and certification required for organic farms.  Critics consider those who buy organic food as money wasters who are unaware of the truths behind what they are buying.
Organic foods can be contaminated with salmonella, Listeria, or E. coli (Food Safety). These organisms can cause illness and even death.  Animal waste is used as a fertilizer instead of synthetic chemicals on organic foods.   The problem with animal waste as fertilizer is that many unlicensed facilities sell contaminated fertilizer.
              Many consumers buy organic foods because they think that they are pesticide free.   This is an idea that has been created by the consumer.  Organic farmers can use natural pesticides such as sulfur, copper, nicotine, and plant extract (Love to Know). Just because an item is organic does not mean it was raised in a plastic bubble environment.  It is still susceptible to rain and wind.  It is a fact that almost all pesticides do not end up in their desired location (Wikipedia)  Run off, flooding, and water column pollution also play a role. 
Taste is one of the key factors in what the consumer buys.  The difference between organic and inorganic foods in taste is very minimal and most people cannot differentiate between the two.  The consumer may have a placebo effect because what they are consuming in their mind is better but to most a difference is not noticeable.
             A disadvantage of organic food is the life of the product.  Without the preservatives found in inorganic foods nearly all of these products must be refrigerated.  Organic farming also yields fewer crops because insects, weeds, and fungi often damage a larger portion of organic crops than conventionally grown crops. Finally, only about half of the states regulate organic foods and little exists to stop organic farmers from labeling any food they wish as “organic”.
Conscious consumers for years have worried about the long term effects pesticides, nitrates, and fertilizers will have on the health of the world’s population.  Physicians are blaming pesticides for new strains of cancer and these threats have heightened the populations desire for healthy alternatives to foods loaded with carcinogens.  The idea in itself is smart but still irrational. 
              The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables such as lower rates of cancer, stroke, and other diseases far outweigh any potential risks. Still, the thought of pesticides on fruits and vegetables may still concern some consumers.  For those consumers there are many precautions you can take to eliminate the risk of consuming chemicals.  Most important is eating a balanced diet of many types of fruits and vegetables.
              To say that inorganic or organic is a better choice is up the consumer to decide.  If your diet consists largely of a certain item you may want to think of going organic but if you eat a balanced diet and live a generally healthy lifestyle you have no reason to worry the worries some concern with inorganic products.  It is the consumer’s responsibility to find the truth in what is presented by the media.  An apple is an apple, whether it is organic or not and the consumer should not have to pay twice as much for peace of mind. 




Sources

"Define Organic Foods." Organic Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2010. <www.oldwayspt.org/glossary.html>.
"Enviromental Effects of Pesticides." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_effects_of_pesticides>.
"Growing Organic: Criticism and Misconceptions About Organic Farming." IFOAM. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2010. <http://www.ifoam.org/growing_organic/2_policy/criticisms_misconceptions_main_page.php
"Organic Food." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food>.
"Organic Foods and Children." Food Safety . N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2010. <http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/factsheets/UpToDate%20-%20Organic%20Foods%20and%20Children.pdf>.
"Permitted Chemicals List Fact Sheet." Love to Know. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2010. <http://organic.lovetoknow.com/Permitted_Chemicals_List

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