Many of the attributes that consumers are looking for in their food, beverages, household items and beauty products are covered under the banner of certified organic products.
The 2016 New Zealand Organic Market report highlighted some of the main factors consumers are looking for when it comes to their purchases. One of the factors that rated highly was for GM/GE free food. Consumers may or may not be aware that purchasing certified organic products instantly assures the product does not contain any genetically modified ingredients. So by purchasing organic it's an easy way to ensure you're avoiding genetically engineered food.
The report highlighted another important factor for consumers is that their food is 100 percent natural. By choosing organic you can be assured what you're purchasing is 100 percent natural. However, it must be noted that the two words are not interchangeable, as some might believe! For example, a conventional apple or orange is "100 percent natural" but this doesn"t mean it has not been sprayed with copious layers of synthetic chemicals. So purchasing "natural" products does not necessarily mean you are purchasing organic, but purchasing organic does mean you are purchasing natural. Most consumers are aware purchasing certified organic products means they will be avoiding synthetic chemicals but they do not necessarily make the connection that their "natural" product could have been involved in a lot of chemical treatments.
Lesser known is the fact that irradiated products or ingredients are not permitted. Non organic food items such as herbs and spices, herbal teas and tropical fruits may be subjected to irradiation in order to stop the development of insects concealed within produce and to lengthen shelf life. The foods are put through powerful gamma rays or x-rays, a practice which is raising concerns in the scientific community about nutrient loss, free radical production, and links to diseases. Consumers can rest assured that any certified organic foods they purchase will not have been irradiated.
Sustainability is a core, fundamental concept at the heart of the organic movement so it can be a good choice for those who are intent on looking after the environment and improving it for future generations. Organic farms vary in their efforts to improve animal welfare and employ principles of permaculture—just as conventional farms do. For this reason consumers may choose to investigate the origin of their food and products further. Positive choices do not need to be complicated however; and the certified organic label helps to make purchasing easier by checking a number of the boxes that consumers are looking for.
Note: This article was written with relevance to New Zealand Certified Organic Standards. Standards in other countries may vary slightly.
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