What’s all this about Organic?

How to Transition into a 39-billion-dollar niche market


You’re at the grocery store trying to decide between generic and organic potatoes. The potatoes, themselves, look identical. The generic potatoes (think Meijer, Kroger, Marsh, etc.) costs 30 cents less. The organic potatoes have a nice green organic sticker (you know the ones). The general consensus is that “organic” means “healthy.”

But the potatoes look the same—So what’s the difference, really?

According to a blog titled “Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production,” found on the USDA website, “organic” is merely “a labeling term” which suggests an approved means of production meant to integrate “cultural, biological, and mechanical practices.” The importance of these regulations lies in their aim to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecological equilibrium. So in reality “organic” can be better defined as “sustainable.” There are a variety of production practices within organic farming that aim to restore earth’s natural ecosystems while simultaneously producing higher quality goods.

Some of these practices include:

  1. Planting native vegetation around certified organic farms in order to slow erosive processes and filter pollution
  2.  Maintaining diverse plant species to protect waterways as well as local animals’ habitats
  3.  Adding organic matter to soil to boost diversity

The results of incorporating small changes like the ones listed above are repercussive. On top of benefitting the environment and soil health, organic farmers also “decrease their dependence on fertility inputs purchased from off the farm, reduce pest management costs, maintain reliable sources of clean water, [and] increase drought resiliency” not to mention, return higher profits.  Regardless of how one defines “organic,” consumer demands for organic products are on the rise. The USDA claims a $39-billion-dollar increase in the industry’s retail sales. And, as of February 18 of this year, as part of the USDA’s commitment to help farmers “meet the growing demand for certified organic products,” the USDA announced increased insurance coverage to “allow producers to purchase insurance…that better reflects their product’s actual value.”  With the way the market is going the definition of “organic” means more than “healthy” or “sustainable.” “Organic” means “profitable.”

By: Kara Hüster

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