WORLD DEMAND FOR ORGANIC FOOD

Organic foods are foods produced by organic farming. While the standards differ worldwide, organic farming in general features cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not allowed, although certain organically approved pesticides may be used under limited conditions. In general, organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or synthetic food additives.

Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic within their borders. In the context of these regulations, organic food is food produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations. Although the produce of kitchen gardens may be organic, selling food with the organic label is regulated by governmental food safety authorities, such as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or European Commission.

Public perception

There is widespread public belief, promoted by the organic food industry, that organic food is safer, more nutritious, and tastes better than conventional food. These beliefs have fuelled increased demand for organic food despite higher prices and difficulty in confirming these claimed benefits scientifically.

Psychological effects such as the “halo” effect, which are related to the choice and consumption of organic food, are also important motivating factors in the purchase of organic food. An example of the halo effect was demonstrated by a study of Schuldt and Schwarztz. The results showed university students who inferred that organic cookies were lower in calories and could be eaten more often than conventional cookies. This effect was observed even when the nutrition label conveyed an identical calorie content. The effect was more pronounced among participants who were strong supporters of organic production, and had strong feelings about environmental issues. The perception that organic food is low-calorie food or health food appears to be common.

BACK