MY FINAL WORD OF ORGANIC FOOD

Now, we are here – The end conversation of organic food.

I always think of this question while I am doing the organic food blog post: what’s the point of reintroducing the organic food industry to the public?

Finally, I come to realize that I did not simply want to promote the organic food itself, or demolish organic industry, but rather my main goal is to promote an organic living life.

Organic living is a lifestyle in a way that is healthy for you and the environment. As for foods, organic means foodstuff that did not go through fertilization and pesticides. As for living, organic simply means a healthy lifestyle, as the foods that are not processed with harmful chemicals.

What exactly is organic lifestyle? To me, living in an organic way does not only mean doing a healthy organic diet, but also doing other responsible stuffs for the earth. By doing good things responsibly, you can create a safe places to live in and influence everyone to switch to an organic lifestyle. Here are few things that you can do:

Eating organic: Following an organic lifestyle is eating organic foods. It starts with eating vegetables and fruits cultivated without using chemicals as well as meats processed without using hormones and closed factory environments. This way is healthy because the chemicals, such as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, can destroy one’s health.

Organic benefit: The best way to get more people to be involved and interested in organic food is to ensure that people get accurate description of organic food. Stop listening to how social media portrays the organic food, we, as a responsible community member, have to dig deeper of inner values of organic food. By informing the environmental benefits of organic farm, and advanced benefit for the future generation, the community could raise awareness of organic food benefits and influence more people to get involved with.

Organic Garden: Organic lifestyle should not be interfered by its high price. Organic farm can be interpreted as the most old fashioned farming skills human have. We could not be charged by what we deserve to master thousand years ago. So we can’t pay high price for such thing. To fight against the high charge of organic food, and to make more people become accessible to organic food, you can start to build our individual organic farm so that we can lower the cost and prevent damage from big company organic farm. One thing to keep in mind is to pay attention to the requirements and needs of each plant as well as the soil conditions.

All those we have been talking about are not easy job to do. We need you to participate right now, to take action and to disseminate it. 

Economic Effect of organic food

Continue our topic of organic food. This time, I ‘d like to dig deeper in economic effects on organic food industry.

Organic food industry has been growing strong in the US, on the back of increasing awareness regarding health, environment protection, food safety, and animal welfare reforms. 

Even in the testing scenario of economic slowdown, the industry posted 5.1% year on year growth in 2009, which was well ahead of overall food industry growth in the country. Emphasizing on the existing and upcoming market trends, the “US Organic Food Market Analysis” - released by RNCOS institute - further reveals that the industry will orchestrate 12.2% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) during 2010-2014. 


However, the seemingly optimistic organic food industry sets some barriers for people, especially poor, to access. The first barrier is the price issue. Here’s my comparison on organic vs. non-organic food price in Trader Joe’s.

Cost of Fruit

Organic vs.Non-Organic

Banana

.19/lb.   .59/lb

Apples

$4.97 – 3 lbs.   $3.99 – 3 lbs.

Strawberries

$4.97 – 16 oz.  $2.97 – 16 oz.

Oranges

$4.99 – 4 lbs.   $4.49 – 4 lbs.

Total

$14.76    $13.17

$1.59 (Difference in Organic vs. non-Organic Fruits)

Cost of Vegetables

 

 

Organic  vs.   Non-Organic

Carrots

$1.99/3 lbs., .89/lb.    $1.89/3 lbs., .89/lb.

Broccoli

$2.49/lb.   $1.99/lb.

Celery

$.99/lb.     $.89/lb.

Total

$5.47      $4.77

As we can see, Certified organic products are generally more expensive than their conventional counterparts. You may ask: does this kind of differences will influence people’s perchase of organic food. The answer is yes. For those who depend on food stamps, those who are students, and those who are middle class but realized that the organic food is nothing nutritious compared to the conventional food, the high cost of organic food will only drive them to choose conventional food instead of organics.

Although, based on my previous posts, many would argue that there’s not much value of organic food industry since it’s not more nutritious to people, the organic food is indeed ecofriendly to us. It protects the soil texture, reduce food intake of pesticides and  preserve water quality. In my opinion, I hope that organic food is accessible for all the people. So how do we struck down the price barrier? To solve the problem, we have to examine the causal factor of such a high price in organic food industry.

First of all, Organic food supply is limited as compared to demand; as we all know, if the demand is greater than supply, suppliers could raise their money as higher as possible to gain profit.

Secondly, Production costs for organic foods are typically higher because of greater labour inputs per unit of output and because greater diversity of enterprises means economies of scale cannot be achieved;

Thirdly, Post-harvest handling of relatively small quantities of organic foods results in higher costs because of the mandatory segregation of organic and conventional produce, especially for processing and transportation;

Last but not least, Marketing and the distribution chain for organic products is relatively inefficient and costs are higher because of relatively small volumes.

So now it’s time for us to think how do we tackle down all the problems. To me, local organic farm is the key to such question. Local farm not only can build a healthy relationship to make organic food accessible to the neighbors, but also reduce sale price for organic food due to lack of transportation fee on shipping goods.  

 

The effect of Social media on organic food.

The power of social media has been well established. At the same time, food industries are learning more about the influence and usefulness of the data being generated. In my opinion, the information being communicated has the potential to alter consumer perceptions of foods, brands and companies, particularly in organic food industry.

Let me introduce some statistics of social media:

Social media platforms have grown quickly, with nearly 4 of 5 active Internet users employing the technology. Fifty-five per cent of U.S. adults have more than one social networking profile, and they spend far more time communicating using blogs and social networks than via e-mail.

For the organic food industry, social media promotes organic food business marketing opportunities. They allow companies to engage with customers on a more personal level and to interact. These interactions give marketers the opportunity to analyze and divide consumer groups in ways so that they can provide adequate organic food products to serve.

The process is also circular, because numerous times after a consumer decides to buy, prepare and try the organic food after being influenced by social media, they then communicate their experiences using the same technology. The Hartman study also found that during an eating or drinking occasion nearly one-third of Americans use social media. Among the Millennial demographic, which comprises people between the ages of 18 and 32, the share using social media while eating or drinking rises to 47%.

However, social media does serve its dark side to the public. Let’s think about these questions: why does most people believe that the organic foods are much healthier than conventional food? Are they just all coming up with this wrongful conclusion unanimously?

I think the answers are clearly. It’s the social media ingrained all those false impressions on us. It makes sense. Social media, like CNN, newspapers are always business oriented so that they may be press to do such business promotion reports to the audience. At the same time, audience, as the passive receiver, would only accept the “truth” from social media without really checking it.

Reference:

http://www.frankwbaker.com/mediause.htm

The bright side of government regulation

  From its beginnings on individual unregulated farms to its growth through local and regional networks, and finally now to the establishment of a national standard, organic foods have traveled an amazing path over the last thirty years. The regulation – organic standards – is a milestone for organic food industries. The organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA organic. Overall, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances. For instance, 

-Organic crops. The USDA organic seal verifies that irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used.

-Organic livestock. The USDA organic seal verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.

-Organic multi-ingredient foods. The USDA organic seal verifies that the product has 95% or more certified organic content. If the label claims that it was made with specified organic ingredients, you can be sure that those specific ingredients are certified organic.

  Not only give a definition of organic food, the USDA also set different labels in the market, in order to serve consumers’ best interests. For instance, A product that is “100% Organic” must be comprised of 100% organic ingredients.  “Organic” products have to be made with 95% organic ingredients.  Products that claim to be “Made with organic ingredients” must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, and finally a label that says “Product has some organic ingredients” has been made with less than 70% organic ingredients.  (1,7,8).  In addition to federal laws, organic farmers must also comply with local and state health standards.

  Those rules strengthen consumer confidence in U.S. organic foods domestically and internationally. It creates a balance economic organic foods market so that the company could not raise price for their so-called-organic-food. All the organic foods that consumers’ bought must be labeled. The relative complete regulation/ certification of organic foods could be a reason that the sudden rise of organic food market. It is because of the regulation so that people psychologically feel like the organic foods, which tested by the government institution, is “real organic foods”. But conventional food does not have such certification so that it may create a scenario that there are unseen quality issues.

Reference:

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=organic-agriculture

What does the science say?

  Follow our previous post, we finally got some common sense about organic food. We know that it’s produced by organic farm, and it is label and proved by official organization. So there must be some merits in organic food, right? 

  I bet most people are like me, always relating food with nutrition, making the false correlation that organic foods are much healthier compared to conventional food, so that people are willing to a huge amount of money on those food. Well, to be honest with y’all, that’s just wrong. Scientific researches have not made any progress to suggest that the organic foods are more nutrition-valued for human, or it’s healthier for human body. No, nothing has been proved yet.

  However, there are still advantages of organic foods. It does have several positive influences on environment. 

1. Reduce The Toxic Load: Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and our Bodies

Buying organic food promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. With only 0.5 percent of crop and pasture land in organic, according to USDA that leaves 99.5 percent of farm acres in the U.S. at risk of exposure to noxious agricultural chemicals.

2. Reduce the farm pollute

Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers; it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. Synthetic fertilizer drifting downstream is the main culprit for dead zones in delicate ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where its dead zone is now larger than 22,000 square kilometers, an area larger than New Jersey, according to Science magazine, August, 2002.

3. Build healthy soil

Feeding the soil with organic matter instead of ammonia and other synthetic fertilizers has proven to increase nutrients in produce, with higher levels of vitamins and minerals found in organic food, according to the 2005 study, “Elevating Antioxidant levels in food through organic farming and food processing,” Organic Center State of Science Review (1.05)

In conclusion, the scientific researches have demonstrated the environmental advantages of producing organic food. In fact, with improved techniques, investment funding research on best practices and improving farmer know-how, the organic food production will have a huger impact on environmental issues. 

Anatomy of organic food.

Whole foods, Trader Joe’s, even Walmart have been crazy about advertising their organic food label. True, “organic” is becoming the new trend in food industry. Everything has to be organic, the milk, the fish, and even the processed food like chips.

I don’t know about others, but to me, emerging under the flood of organic food, I have never really asked the question: what is organic food, who defined “organic” and what makes them so special and popular?

You probably start to realize that you are not that familiar with the word “organic” and even more you start to come up with more questions about organic food. In my 6 consecutive research project, I am here to uncover the story or organic food. However today, instead of arbitrarily throw off some random facts of organic food facts, I would love to introduce an organic 101 lesson and let you at least understand some basic concepts in organic food world.

So what is organic food? Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

There are four different levels or categories for organic labeling. 1)‘100%’ Organic: This means that all ingredients are produced organically. It also may have the USDA seal. 2)‘Organic’: At least 95% or more of the ingredients are organic. 3)’Made With Organic Ingredients’: Contains at least 70% organic ingredients. 4)‘Less Than 70. Organic Ingredients’: Three of the organic ingredients must be listed under the ingredient section of the label.

In the United States, all organic food need to have certification, which is the process by which the consumer is assured that a product marketed as “organic” in compliance with production and handling requirements set forth in USDA regulations. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

The above paragraph introduces some basic idea of what organic foods are and how it is regulated. Hopefully, it clears some misunderstanding and in the next post, we will focus on some controversial scientific effects of organic foods.

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Christoffer Relander was born in Finland December 1986, and is now based in Raseborg, his home town. He became interested in art already at an early age. When he served the Finnish Marines between 2008-2009 he fell in love with photography. Today he has become a successful young fine art photographer with work done for national as well as international clients such as Adobe, Nikon and Oxford university Press. His work has as well been published in several notable publications and websites around the globe. To mention a few LA Times, Oprah.com and Nikon Pro magazine.

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