Many experts say organically grown foods are healthier, taste better and are more nutritious. Farmers who follow organic methods avoid using synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. In addition, these foods are processed without chemical additives, industrial solvents, or irradiation.
During the 20th century, the introduction of pesticides and herbicides into the food chain have become widespread. Known as the Green Revolution, the mission was to battle famine by increasing the production of crops around the world. In order to achieve this goal, synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides were introduced and widely used.
Many environmentalists and farmers claim the methods adopted by the Green Revolution are destructive. Studies have shown conventional chemical methods produce more waste and require more energy.
Opponents of chemical farming claim it is not sustainable because it is dependent upon artificial inputs. In addition to the chemicals used for fertilization and pest control, farm animals are given drugs to enhance the production of foods such as meat, milk, and eggs. Specialized machinery, powered by fossil fuels, is required.
The practice of monoculture is prevalent in chemical farming. It involves planting the same crops in the same fields for many successive years. Agricultural experts say this practice increases susceptibility to pests and diseases. In addition, it depletes the nutrients and eliminates native fauna and flora.
Organic farming is sustainable. Practices such as crop rotation, intercropping, aquaponics, mulching, composting, companion planting, and the integrated management of pests support self-sufficiency and sustainability. The health of the soil is preserved, and biodiversity is promoted.
Organically labeled foods must be certified and include the absence of human sewage sludge, fertilizer in animal feed and plant cultivation. Synthetic chemical inputs must be avoided. In addition to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, they include food additives and animal antibiotics. Genetically modified organisms must not be used. In order to become certified, the land that is used must be free from exposure to synthetic chemicals for at least three years.
Demand for the healthy alternatives offered by organic restaurants has been growing steadily. Experts estimate the global demand for these foods has grown by 20 percent each year since the 1990s. In many countries, it is the food industry’s fastest growing sector.