The Greening of Our Food Chain: The Organic Boom

Ellen Haas Health Guide
  • Interest in a sustainable food chain is building as we become more aware of the strong connection between what we eat, our health and the health of the planet. The organic boom that is sweeping the nation and the movement to buy local are two important steps in our quest for a greener food chain.



    With many new reports, it becomes clearer how many benefits there are for going organic. And with increasing studies and media attention about the health and environmental benefits of organics, the number of products available in the marketplace is soaring. Together with the fact that foods produced and cooked this way simply taste better, it is no surprise that the number of consumers buying organic is mounting.

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    Over the past decade there has been double digit annual growth of organic products available in our markets. The sales growth of organic foods has increased by 15-21% each year over last while the overall food industry has grown 2-4%. But the conventional market dwarfs the organic market with its $550 billion in yearly sales while the organic market was a bit over $17 billion in sales in 2006.


    The reasons for this growth are many. With the passage of the National Organic Products Act in 1990 and the USDA organic labeling program finalized in 2002, consumers in the marketplace can finally tell which products are truly organic. To bear the seal and be called "organic" fruits and veggies cannot be treated with toxic chemicals like pesticides or fungicides for at least 3 years. For dairy products to be called "organic" they must have been raised without hormones or antibiotics and fed only organic feed. The organic certification program has given consumers confidence that the product is really organic and reduced the confusion in the marketplace.


    Organic agriculture protects our health and the health of the planet by reducing the overall exposure to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can be found in the ground, air, water and food supply, and that studies have shown to be related to health consequences including cancer and asthma. Instead of using chemical pesticides,organic growers use biological and cultural practices in their fight against pests.


    According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, pesticides pose special concerns to children because of their high metabolisms and low body weights. They report that more than 1 million children between the ages of 1 and 5 ingest at least 15 pesticides every day from fruits and vegetables.


    There are also nutritional benefits from buying organic. Growing crops in healthy soils result in food products that offer healthy nutrients. Recent scientific evidence shows that organically grown fruits,vegetables and grains may offer more of some nutrients including vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.





    Today in 2008 we have a changing agriculture landscape that offers much promise. We all can do our part to support the greening of our food chain by seeking out organic products in the market. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Markets, said last year, "A new era of food production is emerging to replace industrial agriculture and that is ecological agriculture." Share with other FoodFit members how this is happening where you live and how your daily marketing is changing.


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    Organic fruits and vegetables offer you nutrition, environmental and health benefits as well as tasting better. Here is a delicious organic, salad recipe from FoodFit chef Nora Pouillon that we enjoyed at Ellen's Healthy Table:

Published On: January 28, 2008