What You May not Know about Organic Food
For thousands of years, people of the earth nourished themselves with whatever they could catch, find or grow. Their bounty depended mainly on where they lived and was enhanced by techniques and tools they developed. They hunted and fished with respect and appreciation. They worked the land with knowledge and skill. These people, the stewards of the earth, paid tribute to Mother Earth and Father Sun.
And then came The Industrial Revolution.
Equipment and production plants that streamlined food production showed up. Trains and trucks began transporting food.
The development of farming equipment spurred increased production. To keep pace, chemical fertilizers were used to speed up plant growth, as traditional agricultural practices were too slow. Profits of industrial agriculture went up; small, and family farms decreased.
The soil of commercial farms became imbalanced, depleted of essential plant nutrients. The weakened plants attracted insects; pesticides were born like DDT. Over time the detrimental effects began to affect people, causing illness.
Food packaging and supermarkets sprung up.
WWII spearheaded the need for transportable foods with longer shelf-life. The food industry responded with processed foods and non-food foods. Research found chemicals and food additives that made these foods possible. Scientists questioned their safety.
An organic food movement began in the 1940s as a reaction to agriculture’s growing reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
After the war, many women continued working, welcoming time-saving foods to keep up with family needs, like boxed and frozen foods. TV came into our homes. With advertising. Business boomed. But general health began to decrease. Heart disease increased.
In 1963, the FDA bowed to the food industry by changing the legal definition of food:
* Traditionally, food is defined as a “nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, to maintain life and growth.”
* The legal definition became “(1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for components of any such article.”
With the doors open and all restraints removed, the food industry launched a tsunami of manufactured “foods” into the market. Sold with impunity. They began calling their products “Conventional Food.”
To distance themselves, the organic food movement organized in the mid 70’s. Farming and consumer groups began pressuring for government regulation of organic production. This led to various legislation and certification standards being enacted through the 1990s and to date.
Currently, most aspects of organic food production are government-regulated in the US and the European Union.
The difference is huge. Organic food is grown in traditional ways. Human health and sustainable farming practice is the driving force.
Conventional food is grown on industrial, single-crop farms with the help of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and modified seeds. Profit is the driving force.
An array of modified and non-food products are now their primary source of income.
Some processed foods are made with organic ingredients.
It’s the customer’s nightmare to wade through all the possibilities. Too much information to deal with? Happily, a long-time trustworthy organization, The Environmental Working Group, has cataloged most products regarding their nutrition, ingredients and processing factors.
Here’s the webpage.