Concept of Organic Foods
Organic foods are produced based on the methods that limit the application of synthetic materials such as synthetic pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. Organic agriculture involves no antibiotics and hormones in animal feeds.
In order to comply with the Food Standard Regulations, organic foods are required to be labeled as “Organic”, “100% organic” or “made with organic ingredients” on the packages. When a food product claims as “100% organic”, it means that at least 95% of the food content is organic and every legal standard has been followed to produce this product organically.
The correct labeling of the organic products also provides reliability for the consumers. However, the descriptions used on the labels of the organic foods are rather confusing. For instance, the food products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients are legally allowed to claim “made with organic ingredients” on the package which may be misinterpreted as the whole content is made up of organic ingredients.
Initially, organic foods were not so easy to come by and only a limited range was available. At present, the growing trend in demanding for organic foods has resulted in a significant increase of manufacturing a wide range of organic foods.
Limited processing is involved in the production of organic foods. They contain no/little added ingredients (such as sugar, fat and salt) and more nutrients, minerals and vitamins compared to the conventionally produced. It is legally necessary that the certified organic foods should be free from any genetically modified ingredients.
From the perspective of environment, organic farming is less harming than conventional system. Many synthetic pesticides and insecticides can be seriously harmful to environment (soil, water and wildlife). Organic farming utilises no/little pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Agricultural techniques such as crop rotation, mixed planting and green manure are implemented in the organic farming to control pests and maintain fertility to the desired extent. Organic farms are more beneficial in maintaining diverse ecosystems compared to the conventional farms . Less energy and waste materials and less effluent are involved for the production of organic foods.
Many people would rather consume organic foods because of their desirable organoleptic quality. This is mainly attributed to the absence/insignificant preservatives, artificial colours and flavours and the fact that they are processed with fewer artificial methods like food irradiation and chemical ripening.
Animals (from which organic foods are obtained) should be kept and treated in certain conditions to ensure their adequate welfare. Chickens for example, should be allowed to feed and walk freely in the environment with sunlight exposure. In this regard, some people prefer to consume meats, eggs and dairy products which have been produced organically rather than those provided conventionally.