By Shawn Stevenson
The latest transition phase of the food economy from industrial to sustainable shows how the food consumption trends are evolving globally.
This new food economy works through an economic framework which focuses on the health and safety of the planet and its people. This system generally views the structure of food market as a whole; where the industry is built to function in a way that it facilitates not just the people but the society and environment while ensuring sustainability.
As the consumption of healthy food becomes more mainstream it naturally influences three major dimensions of the industry, agriculture, economy, and export. This global inclination towards adopting an organic lifestyle indicates an increase in awareness among people regarding health issues related to food.
The food industry proportionally transforms with the lifestyle of people. The new and evolving market is thus attracting food producers, retailers, processors and entrepreneurs. Besides the growing health concerns, this major shift has also resulted in getting more attention from entrepreneurs.
People are coming up with new ideas of business within the food production and retail industry while integrating green practices as a part of their overall business plan. The role of media in raising consciousness about improved quality of life with a responsibility towards permanence of our planet’s sustainability is indeed commendable.
Earlier food strategies were only directed at adequate food security, having enough produce in order to meet the demand of world’s food consumption. Strategies, reports and plans are now devised keeping in view the quality of food along with quantity.
The focus is now shifted to providing the world with sufficient quantity of healthy food.
The Organic Philosophy:
If we talk about the philosophy of organic food production and consumption, it involves an agriculture system that is designed to constantly facilitate the needs of a stable planet. This can only be achieved through an interrelated system that endorses a healthy impact on ecological, economic and social integrity through organics.
The organic production of food basically promotes the following principles: wellbeing of biodiversity, sustainability, environmental balance, utilization of pest management and fertilization techniques that are natural and maintained soil integrity. The application of these principles may vary from farm to farm, based on the type of produce and implemented practices.
The principles of organic food production, as mentioned in the organic foods production act and defined by the standards set by U.S. Department of agriculture are:
- Preserving natural resources and biodiversity.
- Welfare and support of animal health
- Utilizing certified and approved materials and techniques, without the use of GMOs
- Annual field inspections
- Separate classification and identification of organic and non-organic food.
- Outdoor and natural breeding of livestock to ensure natural growth.
The set standards are enforced to implement this organic philosophy from production, consumption to import and export of the product. Furthermore, these standards cover the agricultural aspect of food production which curtails the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, inorganic feed for livestock and the use of food additives.
So what changed?
The increased skepticism about the quality of food among people infused through various channels has resulted in conscious consumer behavior. Exposure to the knowledge regarding the harmful impacts of chemically produced and processed food with additives gives people a reason to shift to a healthier life style. More and more researches are coming up, logically linking illnesses and disease with a person’s dietary habits.
Obesity, heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes and other food borne diseases are proved to have a link with the unexamined consumption of inorganic food. However, these studies and researches have proved to serve as catalyst to changing food trends as people now prefer more greens over meat and are now also concerned about their natural food storage and production.
Sustainable Agricultural Practices:
Hence to meet the demands of this now environmentally conscious and health concerned population farmers are adopting organic farming techniques practices.
Talk about organic farming and most people would define it as a system that does not encourage the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers or artificial growth boosters. While in reality, organic farming is a complete system that includes much more than that, it is comprised of techniques which improve productivity and the welfare of the entire ecosystem along with more profit for the related agricultural community.
The primary concern of this complete shift in agricultural practices is to promote organic production and establish enterprises that are environmentally responsible.
According to Organic Farming Research Foundation, The organic food industry has seen a rapid growth in 2014 as the number of certified organic farms has shares a 5% increase in comparison to the previous year. The sales on organic products have also escalated in recent years, to $35.9 billion in total which includes organically produced fruits and vegetables.
While many farmers argue over the fact that a certain number of crops are difficult to produce organically, it is however proved that almost every kind of produce can be organically grown.
Organic farming as practiced by modern day farmers and agriculturalists emphasizes on minimizing the use of synthetics and naturally maintain soil’s fertility. Thus it enforces the use of natural resources and maximum recycling within every food production entity. In order to meet the standards of organic farming, the preparation and production, from planting to harvesting of the crops, is carefully handled in a way that the organic quality of the produce remains intact at all stages.
Conventional farming techniques are used with modern equipment to optimize productivity
Traditional farming techniques like Crop rotation and cover crops and organic manure are used to enhance soil’s natural fertility. However these conventional practices when combined with the usage of modern equipment restore the ability to meet the growing concerns of food security.
The cultivation of organic crops is done on lands which have not been chemically treated through fertilizers or pesticides for a minimum period of three years. The certificates issued by U.S department of agriculture are only given to such land areas upon which inorganic agricultural practices were not carried out for three years.
In a nutshell, all the negative uproar regarding inorganic food promises a slow yet definite transition in the world’s food economy. In the past few years, people are more conscious about origin of their food, safe and healthy agricultural practices and food safety thus influencing their purchase decisions.
In my opinion, no matter how generally unconcerned the people were, earlier they are becoming more socially responsible with a rational consumer behavior.