There has been much talk in recent years about the global environment and what issues have developed since the bulk of farming is conventional farming instead of the more traditional organic farming. Conventional farming allows for the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides—some of which has been found to harm the environment, even when used correctly.
Countries throughout the world are, to varying degrees, exploring organic farming techniques as environmentally-friendly ways to grow produce for the world’s population while keeping the environment as healthy as possible. Organic farming, as we know it today, began in Central Europe and in India. Today, there are many countries dedicated to growing produce using organic techniques without reducing the world’s food supply.
In the US, organic food can be formally certified “organic” by passing strict guidelines assuring the food is truly organic. The certifying organization is known as the “National Organic Program”.
There are other organic food movements in the US, however, that are trying to bypass the formality of certification by proposing other, less expensive standards, like the “Authentic Food Standard”. This standard allows for the passage of various criteria, including that all foods be sold by the organic producer, that fresh produce, milk, eggs and meat be sold within 50 miles of their production and that cheese, wine, bread and other fermented products be produced using traditional methods.
Another US-based organic food approach is based on producing and selling organic food products locally. Consumers partner with local farmers and pre-purchase a certain percentage of the year’s harvest. Supporters believe that locally-produced and sold organic foods taste better than those foods transported over long distances in refrigerated trucks.
Throughout the world, food that is grown using strictly organic techniques accounts for approximately 1-2 percent of gross food sales. Organic food sales, however, are growing dramatically worldwide. In fact, the world organic food market has been growing consistently since 1990 at a rate of 20 percent per year.
In the European Union, the EU-Eco-regulation organization regulates all of the organic food in Europe. In Austria, organic farmers have been given incentives and experts expect that up to 10% of all foods grown locally. In Germany, almost all baby food is completely organic and, in some places, up to a third of all bread is baked using organic ingredients.
Italy has gone even further to assure that its children eat organic food. Its government has legislated that, as of 2005, all food prepared in school lunch programs must be organic food.
In the UK, it was reported that more than 600,000 hectares of land was allotted and managed under organic care standards and sales of organic foods increased from approximately 100 million pounds to over 1.2 billion pounds in only ten years.
Perhaps the biggest change has happened in Cuba, where, in 1990, the government banned many chemicals used in conventional farming and converted the land in the entire country to organic farm land. This means that it would be rare to even find a piece of conventionally grown produce within the country.
Clearly the globe is going organic and several countries are light years ahead of the US in promoting organic eating and providing incentives to organic farmers. The trend, however, is definitely headed in the right direction.