Despite the higher prices of organic food, sales in the U.S. topped $39 billion last year, up 11.3% from 2013 as reported by the Organic Trade Association. It’s reflective of the public taking a higher interest in what they’re putting into their bodies.
“People need to know what exactly is in my food, what is in my meat, how are they fed, how are they raised, so I think you’ll see that’s mainstream, where 10-15 years ago it was actually unheard of to know what was actually in our food,” said Deb Kwiatt Marketing and Community Relations for Whole Foods Market in Naperville.
Foods that are organic need to meet strict standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, both in the way they are grown and how they are handled after they leave the farm.
Typically, farmers use natural fertilizers such as manure or compost to feed the soil and the plants. Then, care must be taken to keep organic products isolated during transport.
“It’s very important from the farm to the cart as far as keeping organic integrity because you can grow it, but if it doesn’t maintain its integrity then it’s not organic anymore,” said Kwiatt.
These mandates and other factors, such as limited supply compared to demand and the greater labor input is what drives the costs up.
But advocates say the benefits are worth it. Organic growth helps the environment build healthy soil, fights the effects of global warming and reduces pesticides.
And there’s a dozen items that top the list of pesticide content that should always be bought organic.
“The Dirty Dozen list is typically a product that you put in whole that you eat right away, there is no skin on the outside. Typically that includes berries, or apples, cucumbers, celery you can find this list on the internet,” said Kwiatt.
The organic counterparts of these types of produce are estimated to contain 80% less than those that are chemically grown.
Though many believe there’s also a nutritional benefit to eating organic, there’s no real definitive proof.
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
Get daily hometown news and sports delivered to your inbox!Sign Up Today!