Organic Global Change
In response to the looming health concerns associated with modern life more and more people are turning to organic, or bio, food to put mind and body at ease. Obesity, stress, pollution, toxic pesticides in food, adulterations of meat and the side-effects of consuming hormone-injected cattle- it should come as no surprise then that the health conscious of today strive to ensure that they have the healthiest food possible on their plate.
This is no recent phenomenon, following reports of a pesticide called DBCP causing sterility in banana plantation workers in Latin America, the US Environmental Protection Agency enforced a ban on the practice in the late 1970’s.
Since this event nearly two decades ago, organic food has been gaining popularity. Advancements in regulations mean organic crops are supposed to be grown using only natural fertilizers and animals kept in good conditions, with absolutely no use of hormonal injections.
Inspection bodies follow a strict set of guidelines before certifying any produce as organic and soil fertility, animal welfare and water conservation are some of the objectives that organic farming must meet. But how is this trend developing globally?
According to the ‘Soil Association’ market report of 2013, despite the struggling UK economy leading to a slight fall in overall sales of organic products, the number of consumers below the age of 35 has significantly increased along with the amount of people shopping online for these products. This clearly shows the increasing concerns of the younger generation when it comes to their health, and the mainstreaming of this resulting bio culture.
America, Germany and France are the top three global markets for organic products, with the organic market in the US alone making up 44% of organic produce sales globally.
New Zealand and Australia are among the most important producers of organic food in the world, yet since they export most of their produce to destinations such as Asia their consumption rate is relatively low meaning they represent a mere 2% of the global organic food market in this sense. As awareness spreads ever further, Asia too is said to be catching up with this global organic trend.
However, the rationale behind consuming organic food is often questioned. Organic products definitely cost much more than other products, due to an increased investment in training farmers and ensuring higher standards of animal welfare and environmental policy.
Yet some have raise concerns about the claimed freshness of organic produce after being transported across long distances, as well the quality of organic products not certified by a governmental inspection body.
In order to get a hold on the big debate, researchers at Stanford and ‘American Academy of Pediatrics’ decided to delve, independently, into the matter further. Their studies revealed that there was little difference between organic and ordinary food in terms of vitamin content, while phosphorus was the only nutrient having higher concentration in the former.
The study also found that normal milk was not affected by the hormonal injections given to cows and that there was no difference in the protein or fat content otherwise, calling into question parental concerns about what kind of milk to buy children.
Bizarrely, a study in the ‘Social Psychology & Personality’ also pointed out that regular organic food consumers tended to think that they somehow had an upper hand over others and thus, suggested the study, may prove to carry out less altruistic deeds than their “ordinary” counterparts in the long run.
by Menorca Chaturvedi