With increasing awareness on staying healthy, many individuals are opting for an organic lifestyle. However, with the variety of products available in the market, making the right decision can prove to be quite confusing. Many people are also confused about making a choice between locally grown produce and organic food.

Natural or Organic Food – What Is the Difference?

Consumers are often left wondering whether produce that is certified to be organic is a better option than non-certified locally grown produce. When we speak of organic produce, we are referring to the method in which the fruit, vegetable, or meat is grown or processed in accordance with USDA standards. The method used in organic farming promotes the conservation of water and soil while minimizing pollution. This may not hold true in the case of natural produce.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, certified organic farming operations have grown significantly over the last five years. However, the Northeast Organic Farming Association states that there are other farmers who refrain from the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides but they do not apply for organic certification as people are now more inclined towards buying locally grown produce.

NOFA will be hosting a debate ‘Is Organic Certification Right for You?' on this issue at UMass – Amherst from the 9th to the 11th of August. The debate will focus on the meaning of the organic certification, the changes that it has undergone, and the importance of farmers opting for the set standards of organic farming. It will prove to be beneficial to farmers and consumers alike.

The co-owner of the Red Fire Farm, Ryan Voiland, supports the idea of organic farming and believes in growing food that causes no harm to the consumers or to the environment. He also believes that getting USDA certification is beneficial since it ensures the produce meets specific standards that do not include genetic modification, artificial fertilizers, and chemicals. In the case of livestock, the animals have to be fed organic feed, free of antibiotics and hormones to promote growth while adhering to the set standards for animal welfare.

The payment of a fee to retain the certification, submission of documentation and regularly updated records, as well as regular visits to the facility play a crucial role in ensuring that the norms are adhered to. Many farmers opt not to go through this hassle.

People Opting for Organic Food

People are gradually becoming more aware of eco-friendly alternatives and are opting for an environment friendly lifestyle. One move in this direction focuses on the consumption of organically grown or processed food items. Opting for organic foods encourages natural methods of farming, reducing the pollution caused by the use of artificial pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. In the case of livestock, it ensures that no artificial hormones or medication is administered. So, going organic is in fact a healthier option and is more beneficial to the environment as well. The use of eco-friendly promotional items is also gaining importance, with the emphasis being laid on preservation of the environment.

Source: https://valleyadvocate.com/2013/09/03/certified-organic-whats-that/