August 20, 2010

Answers For the Socially Responsible Shopper: Organic

One World Projects Organic Chocolate
If you're anything like most people, you love the idea of organic food, but don't actually have any idea what... it... means...  You know it has something to do with reducing pesticides and that it's good for the environment, but the details of organic certification are not something you can rattle off at a moment's notice.

So, to clear up the confusion, let's take a look at the story of organic foods, and how the word "organic" is defined in the marketplace.

For modern food stores, organic food is hot, hot, hot.  Sales of organic foods and beverages in the US alone have grown 250% over the past 20 years, from $1 billion in 1990 to $24.8 billion in 2009.  Sales in 2009 grew 5.1 percent over 2008, and that was with the "Great Recession."  Fruits and Vegetables experienced the highest rate of grown at 11.4% from 2008 to 2009.  And, as of 2008, 4.8 million acres of US land were certified organic.

So what makes food "organic"?