The Organic Age has come. The number of organic food fans constantly increases. The goal of this paper is highlight the essence of the organic foods controversy. The paper includes a brief discussion of organic foods, their essence and main features. A detailed analysis of the organic movement controversy is performed. The main theme of the paper is that, based on the recent research findings, organic foods are not more nutritional than conventional food products. As a result, and most likely, the organic foods controversy will continue to persist.
Keywords: organic food, organic produce, organic movement, nutrition.
Organic foods have come to signify a new global trend in nutrition. The number of organic food fans continues to increase. More individuals choose organic food products, hoping that they will finally reduce the amount of harmful elements and the scope of damaging influences on their organism. These hopes are partially justified by the fact that organic foods are being grown without chemical substances and poisonous fertilizers. Processed organic foods do not include any unnecessary additives, such as starches and colorings. Still, the main controversy surrounding the organic food movement is whether at all organic foods can be considered as more useful than conventional food products. The current state of research provides a good answer to this question: organic foods are not more nutritional or useful than non-organic products and, therefore, until researchers learn everything about organic foods, they will be regarded as just another way to leverage commercial profits.
The Organic Foods Movement: Defining the Concept
Organic foods can be rightly considered as a distinctive feature of today’s nutritional realities and, at the same time, the major source of nutritional controversies. The society wants to live in harmony with the natural environment. Sustainability, green movements, renewable energy sources, and organic foods altogether exemplify the most essential features of the so-called Organic Age. In the Organic Age, when people are growing organically minded, it is organic foods that are believed to hide the secret of physical health and happy life (Bernard, 1996). The concept of organic foods was first presented by J.I. Rodale, who actually launched the new Organic Movement. Rodale developed and popularized a new method of growing food plants without using fertilizers and other poisonous materials (Bernard, 1996). As a result, organic foods can be defined as those, which were grown in a natural environment without any artificial or poisonous materials.
The number of people who switch to organic foods has increased incrementally. “More and more people are rebuilding their health by living on such organic foods exclusively using no ordinary marketed vegetables and fruits grown with chemical fertilizers and sprays” (Bernard, 1996, p.1). These food products are believed to be much less harmful than their conventional alternatives. Another important feature of the Organic movement is the use of vitamins from the organic sources instead of synthetic ones (Bernard, 1996). The developed society no longer believes in chemically pure pills that can be bought and administered on a daily basis. The new belief system grows on the premise that artificial products cannot replace those, which grow naturally under the sun and away from the harmful influences of the industrial era.
The Organic Movement Controversy
The organic movement is based on the assumption that industrial agricultural systems cannot satisfy the society’s demand for healthy food products. Nestle (2012) even says that organic production represents a viable critique of traditional agriculture. The main controversy surrounding the organic foods movement is whether or not organic foods are more nutritionally valuable than their conventional counterparts.
Organic food supporters emphasize the numerous benefits of organic foods over industrial agriculture. Pence (2002) writes that organic foods are grown in natural environments without unnecessary additives. Thus, society cannot have any doubts regarding the quality of the organic produce. Most non-organic foods contain E additives; they are farmed intensively and, as a result, unsustainably, which has far-reaching negative implications for both human health and the environment (Pence, 2002). By contrast, organic farming not only results in foods that are safe for human health but also makes possible to nurture lands and soils and increase their agricultural capacity without using any chemical methods (Pence, 2002).
Simultaneously, the nutritional value of organic foods raises many questions. The current state of research suggests that there is no difference in the nutrient quality of organic and conventional food products (Dangour et al., 2009). Even if such differences do exist, they are minor and generally attributed to differences in agricultural production methods (Dangour et al., 2009). Certainly, it is easy to blame the United States Department of Agriculture for being against the organic movement: Nestle (2012) suggests that USDA representatives do not like organic produce because their mission is to support industrial agriculture and yield profits from conventional food products. However, it is difficult to imagine that all empirical studies into the nutritional value of organic foods have been biased. For instance, Dangour et al. (2009) reviewed 162 studies of organic foods and concluded that the nutritional difference between organic and conventional foods was minor.
Apparently, the controversy surrounding the organic foods movement will continue to persist. Scientists will keep analyzing the value and health implications of organic foods, while consumers will follow the new and emerging nutritional trends. For some companies, the Organic Age has already become a reliable source of profits, since organic foods are more expensive and their sales are increasing (Nestle, 2012). For many others, organic foods hold a promise of a better, healthier future. Whether or not organic foods can save the humanity from the most prevalent chronic diseases remains unclear. In light of the recent research findings, organic foods can be regarded as just another global business project, whose main goal is to leverage commercial profits.
The new Organic Age has come. The society has become extremely sensitive to the issues of nutrition and food quality. People living in the Organic Age believe that the organic foods grown without any chemical additives or poisonous fertilizers will fulfill their promise for a better, healthier future. Still, the biggest controversy surrounding the organic produce is whether its nutritional value is greater than that of conventional food products. Despite numerous benefits attributed to organic foods, researchers suggest that organic foods are not more nutritional than conventional food products. Therefore, until researchers know everything about organic foods, they will be regarded as an effective global business project, whose chief goal is to yield financial profits.