News about organics
You've heard lots about organic food but maybe you still don't know the basics. What makes a product organic and who ensures that it really is. Here are 10 things you may not know about organic food.
As of 2010, organic foods made up 4.2 percent of all U.S. retail food sales, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
What is organic?
Organic farmers apply techniques first used thousands of years ago, such as crop rotations and the use of composted animal manures and green manure crops, in ways that are economically sustainable in today's world, according to the USDA. Pesticides, herbicides and other synthetic chemicals are not used. Animals are fed organic food.
Who certifies organic?
Before a product can be labeled organic, a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.
Who buys it
According to research, race, presence of children in the household, and income do not have a consistent effect on the likelihood of buying organic products.
Where it's sold
Organic food used to be sold mostly in health food stores. By 2008, nearly half of all organic foods were purchased in conventional supermarkets, club stores and big-box stores.
According to the National Organic Program, which is part of the USDA and helps farms go organic, the number of organic farms increased by 1,109 – or more than 6 percent – between 2009 and 2011.
Room for growth
There is not enough organic produce and products to keep up with consumer demand. According to the USDA, farms have struggled at times to produce sufficient supply to keep up with the rapid growth in demand, leading to periodic shortages of organic products.
There is a fine of $10,000 per item for anyone who knowingly sells a non-organic product labeled with the USDA organic seal that features the words "USDA organic" inside a circle.
Chicken and eggs
Eggs and poultry are now among the fastest-growing food products in the U.S. organic sector, the USDA says.
The Dirty Dozen
Each year a nonprofit organization called the Environmental Working Group puts out a list called "The Dirty Dozen," which lists 12 fruits and vegetables you should buy organic. Topping this year's list? Apples
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