Organics have continued to expand over the last decade. Organic farming is a way of producing food that respects natural life cycles. It minimises the human impact on the environment and operates as naturally as possible, in accordance with objectives and principles including the following:
- Crops are rotated so that on-site resources are used efficiently
- Chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, antibiotics and other substances are severely restricted
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are banned
- On-site resources are put to good use, such as manure for fertiliser or feed produced on the farm
- Disease-resistant plant and animal species adapted to the local environment are used
- Livestock are raised in a free-range, open-air environment and are fed on organic fodder
- Animal husbandry practices are tailored to the various livestock species
Organic farming is part of an extensive supply chain, which also includes food processing, distribution and retailing.
Many factors influence the decision to choose organic food. Some people choose organic food because they prefer the taste. Yet others opt for organic because of concerns such as:
- Pesticides. Conventional growers use synthetic pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. When farmers spray pesticides, this can leave residue on produce. Organic farmers use insect traps, careful crop selection (disease-resistant varieties), predator insects or beneficial microorganisms instead to control crop-damaging pests. Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. Organic produce typically carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than does conventional produce. However, residues on most products — both organic and nonorganic — don't exceed government safety thresholds.
- Food additives. Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate.
- Environment. Some people buy organic food for environmental reasons. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.