Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The debate about the nutritional superiority of organic foods continues unabated with protagonists and antagonists taking pot shots at each other. Here is the latest on that issue sparked by the reports from the UK rubbishing the nutritional advantages claimed by organic food lobby.

"The purchase of organic food has become nothing short of a global trend, as consumers aim to spend money on products they feel they can relate to and trust. This means knowing exactly what food is made of, how it is processed and its country of origin. While millions of shoppers continue to flock to grocery stores and farmers' markets, investing their faith (and dollars) in the promise of healthy organic foods, the debate surrounding the true value of "organic" has yet to reach a definitive conclusion. The return to a so-called "natural diet" piques shoppers' interests – enough to generate a global organic market valued at an estimated $48 billion in 2007. In July 2009, researchers in London claimed that customers only purchase organic food because they believe it is healthier for their bodies. Scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, however, were not convinced. After a review of 162 scientific papers published in the last 50 years, the research team concluded that there was simply no notable difference between reportedly healthier organic food and conventionally processed food products.

To distinguish between the subtle layers of the labeling process, the USDA Organic Labeling and Marketing Fact Sheet requires the following: In order to be labeled "100 percent organic," products must contain only organically produced ingredients and approved processing aids. To be labeled simply "organic," products must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The remaining ingredients must consist of USDA-approved nonagricultural (non-organic) substances. To be labeled "made with organic ingredients," processed food products must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. Fines for mislabeling of organic products are substantial. According to the USDA, "a civil penalty of up to $11,000 can be levied on any person who knowingly sells or labels as organic a product that is not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program's regulations."

Irrespective the out come of this debate, fact still remains that organic foods pose less danger to the consumer because the production system is under a tight control regime not using chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, unclean water for irrigation etc. To add spice to the debate the "local produce" advocates have jumped into the fray claiming that foods locally produced are superior to that procured from sources far away. But in the absence of the organic label they cannot be trusted to be as safe as genuine organic foods.


No comments: