The Organic Food Guide
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is Organic?
- What are some of the other Natural Alternatives?
- Reading the Labels.
- Organic and Other Labels.
- What Do They Mean?
- Beginnings of Modern Conventional Agriculture.
- Origins of Organic Movement.
- The Health Issues Surrounding Organic and Conventional
- Nutrition: Organic vs. Conventional Foods
- Taste. Does it taste better? Prove it!
- Price. How to save money and buy organic.
- Easy ways to Get Started
- Resources: Where to Get More Information
- Author Bio/Booklist
Organic: Is it Worth It?
Pricing, Real Costs, & Value
“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
—Oscar Wilde, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’
Real Costs of Conventional Agriculture
Pesticides have indeed fulfilled their mandate. They have
helped produce more food at lower prices. In 1956, Americans spent about 18.6
percent of their income on food, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service
(ERS). They spend about 9 percent today. But the sticker price on that apple
does not represent all the costs involved in its production. The ERS says “The
farmer’s share of each food dollar has dropped steadily, from 41 cents in 1950
to only 20 cents in 1998.” Consumers are paying less, but farmers are also
getting less. When you consider inflation, farmers are earning much less. The
U.S. government makes up the difference to selected farmers in the form of tax
abatements and government subsidies. Where does that money come from? Your
taxes! Although it appears that the conventional lettuce is fifty cents less,
it is an economic illusion. You’ve already paid the difference in taxes. Worse
still, only the big farmers are getting these subsidies. In 1997, the USDA
reported that half of the U.S. farm production came from only 2% of its farms.
Small farmers are losing jobs and this is not good for local economies.
But what if you were to factor in all the other costs of
conventional, chemical-based agriculture? What is the cost of pesticide
pollution both to soil and water; the health care expenses related to
releasing carcinogenic chemicals into the environment; the medical bills of
farm workers and children; the erosion of the soil? America produces the
cheapest food in the world. But is the demand for cheap food producing too
many long term problems of suffering, sacrifice, and damage to the public
health and environment?
“...Any economic system must be judged above all else upon
how it produces and uses its food resources.” —Frances Moore Lappe, Diet for A
Price vs. Value
What value do we get from organic farming besides good food?
Arguably, it is a sustainable future and a healthier ecosystem. Organic
farmers work in harmony with nature. Every action they take protects the
purity of our soil, water, and air for future generations. The soil is the
foundation of the food chain. Organic farmers build the soil and protect it
from erosion. They preserve seeds of special varieties; they protect wetlands,
and through crop rotation, they provide foraging for wildlife. In short,
organic farming minimizes the impact of agriculture on the environment.
Your investment in organic foods, the extra fifty cents or
more, also contributes to a healthier economy. Organic foods are generally
grown closer to home meaning your money stays in your region longer, creates
jobs, preserves seed varieties, and develops local cuisines. Far too many
small farms in the U.S. have been sold and converted into strip malls and
condominiums. A successful farm, on the other hand, keeps the land green for
As consumers we don’t have the choice of what to stock on
the supermarket shelves. We only have a choice of where to shop and what to
buy. But never forget that these decisions influence the choices of food
purchasing agents. If you want to see more organic foods available, keep
buying them. Your selections not only affect your health and that of your
family, but also the public health. Organic foods are reflective of a larger
movement of increased awareness about personal health and the environment.
Organic farming was never designed to produce large volumes of food at low
prices. It was designed to produce quality, nutritious food while respecting
the health of people and animals. While conventional food stores ask “will it
sell?” organic food stores ask “should it be sold?” As shoppers, we vote with
our food dollars and ultimately, our votes are either part of the solution or
part of the problem.
“...Your food choices can be of tremendous benefit... the
healthiest, tastiest, and most nourishing way to eat is also the most
economical, most compassionate, and least polluting...You benefit, the rest of
humankind benefits, the animals benefit, and so do the forest and the rivers
and the soil and the air and the oceans.”—John Robbins, ‘Diet for a New
Reviews of The Organic Food Guide
Within the past 8 months I have switched my diet and
lifestyle to an organic one. Since then I have been bombarded with people
asking me why and what does it mean. I found this book in my research and
think it is a very informative and practical guide to understanding why
organic foods are so important, both for our health and for our environment! I
have bought a bunch of these books and have been sharing them with friends and
family. I recommend reading this book as a good starting point to truly
understanding organic essentials! Stephen Keil, West
Milford, NJ. October 26, 2005
"This is the most succinct, best organized, and easiest to
use book on getting started with organics that I have ever seen. It's like a
field guide to help new people get started and it's chock full of statistics
and details for long time loyalists as well." Ronnie
Cummins, founder Organic Consumers Organization (OCA) www.organicconsumers.org
"This book outlines the differences in labels and treatment
of foods in stores. For example, what is the difference between regular and
organic foods, besides price? Before reading this book I never really
understood the difference between products and why I should be buying
organically grown foods. I found this to be very helpful in understanding if I
am really eating healthy." Stephanie White, New York.
March 7, 2005
"Tough new standards and USDA labeling are powering
unprecedented growth and consumer confidence in organic agriculture, and that
means new choices for consumers and new markets for farmers. The Organic
Consumer’s Guide will help consumers make sense of all these new choices. It’s
as timely as the next trip to the grocery store or farmers’ market."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the "father" of the federal organic
standards and labeling program.