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Research Paper - Organic Farming

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Research Paper

Organic Farming

Introduction:

Every Sunday is Simon's grocery-shopping day. Unfortunately, he is in a bit of a dilemma while standing in the produce section of his local supermarket. In one hand, Simon is holding a conventionally grown Granny Smith apple. In his other hand, he has one that has been organically grown. Both apples look firm, shiny and green. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol.

The conventionally grown apple cost less and is a proven family favourite. But the organic apple has a label that says "USAD Organic" or "certified organic". Does that mean it is better? Safer? More nutritious? Simon is suspicious about the decision he has to make. Like many other consumers, Simon does not know what exactly is in his food, what risks exist to himself or to society in general. He trusts that healthy and sufficient food will appear, like magic, in the grocery store. He trusts the corporations, the "food system", that creates this apparent miracle. As well as when the experts that say it's the best way; most of the health-conscious consumers believe them.

I believe that the more information and knowledge accessible to consumers the best alternatives they can choose for their own safety and health concerns. The following quote underlines my thought; "As more people learn the differences between organic and conventionally grown foods, they are choosing organic foods as an alternatives" (Better nutrition, 2003). All along in this paper, organic farming effect is continuously challenging conventional farming. I will introduce a brief history and description of organic foods, and a recent view of the economic growth of organic foods trend in Canada with some statistics, by following next with environmental ethic consumption that disturbed most health-conscious consumers' mind and lastly, the impacts of organic and genetic-modified foods in several important countries.

History:

After the Second World War, however, there was a movement towards mechanization of farming. In instance, "thousand of farm horses were being killed to be replaced by tractors" (Bruins, 2001). Higher productivity, larger and increasingly automated farms spread across the landscape, and these "factory farms" put the "synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and mass-rearing techniques developed in the 1920s into widespread use". Amidst this agricultural industrial revolution, several "wise pioneers" of the organic movement emerged, "bear the dangers of ecological insensitivity" and calling for a return to the responsible farming methods of the past (Suzuki, 2002). Therefore, it is time to put all environmental caring into the picture of nature. In the following article, Organic Health, mentions that from excluding the last few decades, organic agriculture has been an extremely popular form of agriculture practiced in several countries such as Canada, United States, and Japan. As a result, I believe the more information about this new alternative spreads around the world; the best consumption choice of lifestyle is taking into consideration in the mind of consumers.

Description:

Under its simplest definition, organic agriculture is a "holistic system of production with a principal goal to develop productive enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment". Organic foods are produced "without the use of chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides, also they are processed without the use of irradiation, and are not derived through genetic engineering." (Agri-Food Canada, 2003). Brief, this type of farming has no synthetic chemicals involved in foods and animal feedings.

Organic farming is somehow having benefits in the productivity issue. Under organic systems, some crops are priced even better than others. Potatoes, for example, produced 38 per cent lower yield. The researchers sum up, "We conclude that organically manured, legume-based crop rotations utilizing organic fertilizer from the farm itself are a realistic alternative to conventional farming systems." Also, for the example of the apple, a study found that organic crops can produce yields similar to conventional crops and they taste better. Another paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology 2001 found that organic methods to grow tomatoes can promote biodiversity while maintaining productivity. Such benefits of organic system to the environment and to the social health issue are strongly recommended while facing the huge productivity and gaining profit goal.

Current Economic Growth:

Much has been said about the economic forces affecting agriculture and what they might mean for the 21st century. The term "mass customization" has been used to describe how firms might be able to produce customized products for different market segments. As organic foods become mainstream items, they are being marketed in many different outlets. In the beginning, the organic industry was dominated by "small, on-farm processors who grew and marketed fruits and vegetables at local farmers' markets and roadside stands" (Scheel, 2004). Today, organic foods are found in traditional supermarkets, grocery stores and club stores, as well as in many restaurants and college foodservice operations (Survey of International Trade Center, 2004).

The demand and consumption of organic foods particularly in North America continues to grow. In 2005, the Canadian market for organic products represents about $1 billion (CND). Also, independent Canadian grocers increased their organic produce self-space by about 20% between years 1999-2000 (USDA report, 2001). From the Agri-Food Trade Service report, Canada is an ideal country for producing organic foods because of its large and varied land base and its cooler climate, which reduces pest and disease problems.

Most of Canada's organic products are exported, primarily to the United States where much of it is processed and resold to others markets. Canada also exports organic products to the European Union and Japan. Worldwide sales of organic products are estimated at $20 billion, mostly in the US, EU and Japan. The Canadian organic sector is positioning itself to increase and diversify its market share in these and other markets (Agri-Food Canada, 2003).

Since there is a huge potential growth in the organic market, many large companies are developing new organic product lines to attract new consumers. For example,

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