Having established a good position within their niche market in retail, organic foods reached a high point of visibility during the last decade. At one point you could easily find organic versions of everything from branded tomato ketchup and soups to meat products and even organic soft drinks.
Organic versions are generally sold at a higher price point compared with their conventional equivalents, so it could well be that their drop in visibility – as well as their current downward sales trend – could in part be down to recessionary pressures. The financially squeezed customer is less likely to pay a premium for organic foods during a time when the food budget is tighter and savings need to be made.
What’s Organic – What Isn’t?
Unsurprisingly, the word ‘organic’ doesn’t have a universal definition when applied to food and drink. Rather, it’s a set of different t practices that producers must adhere to in order to gain organic certification for the food they sell. These stipulations that allow the food to be sold as organic can vary from territory to territory. In some countries, the product has to be made up of a minimum percentage of organic ingredients, while the remainder can be conventionally produced.
Simply put, organic means food that’s been grown or reared without using artificial substances such as fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics or hormones. In the case of livestock it also means that the land upon which the animals graze also has to be certified as organic.
Is Organic Better for Us?
This is a question that doesn’t really have a definitive answer. Recent research by Stanford experts has found that there’s no real difference in the nutritional attributes of organic foods compared with ordinary ones. That is to say, in terms of things like the protein content in milk or the vitamin content in vegetables, there will be no difference to your health whether or not you eat organic.
The study found that there was more pesticide residue found in non-organic foods – although the researchers point out that neither type of food will ordinarily exceed the stipulated limits for pesticides so it’s unclear whether this could have any potential effects on the consumer’s health.
The Future of Organic
This is of course just one study, and the government’s health department has stated that it will ‘continue to review research’ on the subject of organic foods. And despite falling sales recently, there will always be consumers who choose products that are as naturally grown as possible.
Jenni Jones is a health and fitness blogger who writes on a range of subjects including medical insurance quotes, workplace health, and nutrition.