Organic foods covers the maximum space of all supermarket’s shelf. Organic foods claim to provide to the consumers various types of health benefits. Organic refers to the fruits and vegetables produced without the use of any synthesized fertilizer.
Once found only in the aisles of health stores, Organic foods now cover the maximum space of any supermarket’s shelf. The shift in the eating habits from conventionally grown food to organic edibles is a result of health benefits these organic foods claim to provide to the consumers. “Organic” refers to the vegetables and crops produced without the use of any synthesized fertilizer, pesticide or any Genetically Modified Organism, while in animals that produce meat, eggs, poultry and dairy, growth hormones and antibiotics are avoided to keep them chemically free.
But how does one differentiate organically processed edibles from the conventional when they both appear almost the same?
While picking up organic food from the aisle of a supermarket people just look for the USDA (U.S Department of Agriculture) label that rates the purity of the food items. The seal of government approval is provided after rounds of inspection and decides how such foods have to be processed, handled and cultivated.
The three kinds of organic foods segmented by USDA on the basis of the processing techniques used are-
100% Organic – To be placed under the category of 100% Organic, products must be completely organic or made using all organic ingredients.
Organic – Product should be at least 95 organic to fall under this list. The remaining 5 could contain inorganic substances, but only from the list of 200 chemicals permitted by the government.
Made with Organic- Made with organic food products contain 70 of organic substances, the other 30 could have the elements approved by USDA
How Organic is the Organic Food? – Controversies
Use of GMOsGMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms are the substances that are engineered to make crops pest resistant. Though USDA does not permit the use of such chemicals but still there are few loopholes that exist, for instance, the organic sausages come from conventionally raised animals that are fed antibiotics. Similarly, two common ingredients namely non-organic cornstarch and soy lecithin are long overdue to be removed from the list of approved elements.
Not Well InspectedNot every piece in the container filled with organic food is checked and verified. The inspection process is often superficial, most of the farmers and food processors bribe the certifiers, also various certifiers compete for the business with one another. Apart from this, organic rules are majorly designed for the big farms that yield more than $ 5000 a year; small fields are still exempted from regular inspections.
What About Imports?Importers of the third party certifiers rarely go to verify the purity of the organic foods; instead they tie up with the local agencies operating in the source country. It increases the chances of fraud and lax enforcement. Also, the food that does not meet the standards gets imported through a third country with a loose regulatory administration.
The main purpose of consuming organic food seems diluted in the presence of such controversies. The only option left with the consumers is to trust the purveyors before trusting the government label, which itself is disheartening. Strict actions are required to ensure the authenticity of the organic food that is distributed worldwide before things get worse.