Organic food, in general includes foods with higher superiority in nutritional value mainly, due to prohibition of usage of preservatives during their processing as well as of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers during their production. Furthermore, the organic production is apparently supposed to keep animal welfare and energy conservation under consideration and also, see to it that the packaging for the food remains environment friendly.
The consumption of organic food has seen a marked increment around the globe in the past decade. In all probability, the reason behind this choice of consumers is health consciousness and concern for food safety. As these set of foods have to be compulsorily labelled about the organic status of the food and also possess a certification or a quality assurance mark assuring that the food has been produced/processed by abiding the regulations set up by dignitaries concerned about the quality of the organic foods, the consumers find it easier to trust the authenticity of these foods. Common reports have suggested that organic foods have a better taste as compared to the other conventional kinds, primarily because the crops have been given more time to develop and mature, in addition to usage of environment friendly agricultural techniques. On the contrary, conventional edibles which might be produced with the aid of harmful synthetic growth hormones, not only have an inferior taste quality, but also increase chances of bio-magnification of toxic chemicals when consumed by human beings. The requisite of prevention of usage of preservatives in organic foods also assures that they are supposedly fresh and full of flavor. Genetically-modified foods usually possess a lot of ethical concerns such as, they are altering the nature, unlike organic foods which are known to preserve the “naturalness” of the environment. Organic foods are also assured to prevent any kind of antibiotic resistance as their production procedure is supposed to be devoid of usage of antibiotics. Because of less exposure to pesticides and fertilizers during organic production, organic fruits and vegetables have higher biochemical energy to produce beneficial secondary plant metabolites like polyphenolic anti-oxidants and are also known to be enriched in vitamins.
However, organic foods possess an additional price premium and this forms a major reason behind lesser consumption of organic foods. As organic foods and conventional products are close substitutes, consumers conveniently choose the cheaper, conventional category and thus, limiting the demand for organic food. It is difficult to justify the price premium to the consumers as health benefits from organic food consumption cannot be particularly quantified. Nevertheless, as these foods are of high price range and are usually made available in super-markets instead of local markets, only the wealthy strata of the society are able to afford for it. Gradually, as markets mature, transport and processing happen on a larger scale, the prices of organic foods are expected to come down. Further public awareness as well as greater availability of good quality organic foods at a reasonable price might influence the consumer perception about these foods and will certainly lead to maturation of these markets in future.
Dr. Shilpi Shrivastava
Professor & HoD, Department of Applied Science& Chemistry, Kalinga University.
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