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.
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.
For fresh food, "organic" usually means :
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 :
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.