What Are Organic Foods?


What does it mean when we refer to some foods as organic? Are there specific criteria they have to meet? Not only that, but are there any benefits to seeking out organic meat, fruit and vegetables?

In everyday conversation, "Organic food" usually refers to all "naturally produced" food, or the product of organic farming. As a legal term, it means 'certified organic'. This term can cover meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, wine and more.

So What Is Organic?

Organic foods, like food in general, can be grouped into two categories, fresh and processed, based on production methods, availability and consumer perception.

Fresh food is seasonal and highly perishable. Fresh vegetables and fruit is the most available type of organic food, and closely associated with organic farming. It is often purchased directly from the growers, at farmers' markets and from speciality food stores, unprocessed animal products - organic meat, eggs, and dairy - are less common. Prices are significantly higher than for conventional food, and availability is lower. They are still premium priced items.

Fresh Food Organics

For fresh food, "organic" usually means :

  • Produced without synthetic chemicals
  • GM free
  • Locally grown (often, but not necessarily)

What About Processed Foods?

Can these be organic too? Processed food accounts for most of the items in a supermarket. Some of it is organic, and organic prices are often high. In spite of this, organic processed products are now primarily purchased from supermarkets. The majority of processed organics comes from large food conglomerates, as producing and marketing products like canned goods, frozen vegetables, prepared dishes and other convenience foods is beyond the scope of the original small organic producers.

For processed organic food, the general definition is :

  • contains only (or at least a certain specified percentage of) organic ingredients
  • contains no artificial food additives
  • processed without artificial methods, materials and conditions

In Summary

Identifying and choosing organic may be as simple as finding the right labels in the supermarket - after all the companies that make the food are bound by certain legislation. But whether or not you know and understand what it truly means is another thing.


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Useful Websites

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  • Vintage Roots
    The leading independent merchant of Organic Wine and Biodynamic Wine established in 1986.
  • Food Fever
    FoodFever is a UK guide to restaurants and takeaways, pubs and bars, hotels and guest houses, local food shopping, farm shops, organic food and online food shopping.
  • Ila Spa Products
    Specialists in organic and natural skincare, Ila source the finest natural ingredients to bring their customers the ultimate in luxury beauty products.
  • Natural Labs
    NaturalLabs.co.uk offers top quality organic cosmetics derived from all-natural ingredients.
  • Starbucks Coffee UK
    Visit the official Starbucks UK site for news on organic and fair-trade coffee blends. Read about Frappucinos™, espressos, lattes and tasty in-store treats.
  • HDRA - Organic gardening
    Europe's largest organic membership organisation, dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food
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