If you’ve been keeping up with food trends in any capacity over the years, odds are you’ve noticed an uptick in people’s interest to buy organic food products. A questionnaire-based study published in PloS One indicated that shoppers believe that organic foods have greater nutritional value, are grown naturally, and are more environmentally friendly than non-organic products. Moreover, people with higher incomes are more likely to pay the higher prices associated with these items. But what does “organic” really mean?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the agency to label a food item as USDA organic, its producers must only use agency-approved substances and methods for farming and processing. The soil used to grow organic produce must remain free of disqualifying substances, such as synthetic fertilizers barred by the FDA, for at least three years before the certification request. These regulations and government-issued labels help consumers decide which brands and food manufacturers to support with regard to their personal consumer ethics or health concerns. However, thanks in part to flaws in the vetting process, there have been cases of organic food fraud that may have shaken consumers’ faith in the system.