From Wikipedia - Historically, organic farms have been relatively small family-run farms — which is why organic food was once only available in small stores or farmers' markets. However, since the early 1990s organic food has had growth rates of around 20% a year, far ahead of the rest of the food industry, in both developed and developing nations. As of April 2008, organic food accounts for 1-2% of food sales worldwide. Future growth is expected to range from 10-50% annually depending on the country.
Processed organic food usually contains only organic ingredients. If non-organic ingredients are present, at least a minimum percentage of the food's total plant and animal ingredients must be organic (95% in the United States and Australia) and any non-organically produced ingredients are subject to various agricultural requirements. Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives, and are often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions (no chemical ripening, no food irradiation, and no genetically modified ingredients, etc.).
They may also be required to be produced using energy-saving technologies and packaged using recyclable or biodegradable materials when possible.
Early consumers interested in organic food would look for non-chemically treated, fresh or minimally processed food. They mostly had to buy directly from growers: "Know your farmer, know your food" was the motto. Personal definitions of what constituted "organic" were developed through firsthand experience: by talking to farmers, seeing farm conditions, and farming activities. Small farms grew vegetables (and raised livestock) using organic farming practices, with or without certification, and the individual consumer monitored. As demand for organic foods continues to increase, high volume sales through mass outlets such as supermarkets are rapidly replacing the direct farmer connection. However, for supermarket consumers, food production is not easily observable, and product labelling, like "certified organic", is relied on. Government regulations and third-party inspectors are looked to for assurance. A "certified organic" label is usually the only way for consumers to know that a processed product is "organic".
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