Do you know whether that “organic food basket” you just bought from an upmarket store has organic fruits and vegetables? We buy organic not just because organic foods are safer for us, but also because they are more nutritious and flavoursome. While buying organic for your family is a good idea, it’s equally important to know whether you are getting what you are paying a premium for.
The demand for organic food is growing by the day putting pressure on suppliers to supply more and provide seasonal crops throughout the year. The principles of organic farming are difficult to follow when the volumes are huge which is why a lot of suppliers are taking shortcuts.
As the supply chain grows longer, there is a greater disconnect and it becomes almost impossible for a consumer to trace the farmer and to understand whether he followed organic farming practices.
The term “organic” refers to the way fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains etc are grown and processed. While the regulations vary from country to country, what remains standard is the fact that organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, or bioengineered genes (GMOs).
Livestock, which is an essential at any farm, must be raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors and fed organic feed and forage. They shouldn’t be given antibiotics or growth hormones.
While there are labs to test organic food, it is not something that an individual buyer would think of or even go for. Then what should the consumer do?
Consumers should ask questions, observe and only then buy a product. If you see shiny, bright and unseasonal fruits and vegetables on the shelf, you should be suspicious because organic produce is healthy but not necessarily pretty.
Most stores have their own labels for organic products, and they tell customers that they get their supplies from farmers or aggregators they know and trust. With so little information and clarity about certification, how do you make out whether the ‘organic’ label is genuine, if there is one at all?
Keep asking questions about the farmers as well as the certification regularly so that the seller is under constant pressure not to err.