Major Confusion Between Organic and Healthy
March 26, 2003
prices, more and more Americans are choosing to buy organic
Organic food sales
in the United States have increased 20 percent for five years,
with sales reaching $11 billion in 2002, and analysts predict
that the number will reach $13 billion in 2003.
Sales of organic
dairy, the fastest growing segment in the 1990s, rose 500
percent between 1994 and 1999, however, even with the increase
only two out of every 100 gallons of milk sold in the United
States are organic. Yet sales of organic milk and cream in
traditional grocery stores still reached $104 million, and
sales in natural food stores reached $55 million, during 2000.
Organic milk makes
up 1.86 percent of all the food milk sold in the United States,
but with the rising trends farmers predict that it could make
up as much as five percent to 10 percent.
Food industry planners
have also taken note that consumption of organic products
is rising at premium prices. Analysts say this may be because
consumers see organic as not only healthy but also as part
of a socially conscious movement to reconnect with the food
chain and help the environment.
Consumers may also
like the idea of supporting the family farmer in a time when
the U.S. food industry is driven by huge factory farms striving
to produce cheap food. Organic farmers earn about $18 to $23
per hundred pounds for their milk, compared with traditional
farmers who earn $10 to $12, according to industry analysts.
To earn the "organic"
label or use the word organic, milk and other foods must meet
USDA's national standards. According to the standards, organic
milk must come from government-certified farms where dairy
cows are not fed antibiotics and growth hormones, not fed
genetically altered corn or soybean meal, and graze on land
certified free of herbicides or other chemicals.
Recently, a provision
overturned those standards that no longer requires organic
livestock producers to use organic feed. The switch has created
an uproar among organic advocates who are launching campaigns
to protect the original standards.
Health March 10, 2003