DOES IT
HAVE TO
BE
?
By Asma Jarad
Ten years ago, organic products were limited to
certain stores, brands, and quantities. But that
was then. According to the Organic Trade Asso-
ciation’s 2011 Survey, U.S. sales of organic food
and beverages have grown from $6.1 billion in
2000 to $26.7 billion in 2010. In fact, organic
food outpaced the growth of total food sales.
Organic non-food sales rose from $439 million
in 2003 to $1.9 billion in 2010.
So what exactly is organic? For Aiman Awad from Abu Dhabi,
organic products “have very little to no synthetic materials used
in their production.”  For Christine Thompson, from Peoria, IL,
organic also denotes the “total lack of harmful chemicals not
only on the harvested crop, but also within a certain radius of the
designated organic crop.”
According to Mayo Health Clinic, Director of Clinical Dietetics,
Jennifer K. Nelson, perhaps the most significant difference is
conventional farmers’ use of antibiotics and growth hormones to
produce a product quickly, and medications injected into the ani-
mals. Organic farmers, on the other hand, provide animals with
organic feed and allow ample access to the outdoors for exercise
and rotational grazing.
For Thompson, this outdoor time is crucial. “When a producer
confines animals such as chickens to a tiny cage for life, (they are)
not humanely treated nor allowed to live naturally as free range
chickens. This, to me, affects the meat, giving the consumer some-
thing full of chemicals and hormones that can wreak havoc on our
bodies through cancer, obesity, and other adverse effects.”
Organic Valley’s Public Affairs Manager, Jamie Lamonde agrees
that “today’s globalized food system is broken with rampant
use of toxic chemicals, genetically modified organisms and an
unbalanced reliance on a handful of crops.” As a cooperative
owned by family farmers, all of Organic Valley’s dairy, juice,
eggs, meat, soy, and produce meet or exceed the requirements
of the USDA Organic seal. “Organic is our hope for a sustainable
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