Organic food's image during the past century has undergone numerous makeovers in the public eye. What started as hippie food and became gourmet food is now returning to its roots as family food. In fact, a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) shows that 8 in 10 parents choose organic foods for their children!1
It used to be that people ate only organic food, but that changed soon after industrialization. Up until the 1940s, most people ate food fresh from a garden or local farm. After World War II, farming became more mechanized and chemicals increasingly became used to kills pests and boost yields. The environmental movement of the 1960s and ‘70s formed partly as a backlash to these new methods, which many people viewed as unhealthy and unnatural. The USDA certified Organic seal was introduced to indicate that the food or other agricultural products were grown without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; ionizing radiation or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. For the first time, people began to distinguish between organic and conventional foods. In reality, “conventional foods” weren’t conventional at all; they were the product of an industrial revolution in agriculture, not a product of tradition.
When organic foods first entered public awareness, they were mostly associated with hippies who went barefoot and appeared to subsist mostly on granola, sunflower seeds and kale. Over the next twenty years, “organic” got a makeover as a specialty or gourmet food. However, during that time, more and more people became aware of the health benefits of organic food as well, and parents started to do research on how the herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers used on conventional foods were affecting their kids.
As a result of growing concern and public awareness, organic food has rapidly moved into the mainstream. Companies have responded to the desires of consumers, many of them parents, by providing organic alternatives to everyday, family foods. The OTA’s study found that 81% of families report purchasing organic foods, primarily because they want to provide healthy options for their children. Besides general health, avoiding toxic pesticides and fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics and GMOs were some of the top reasons cited by parents who choose organic.
Parents also reported increased trust in the USDA organic label as a measure of healthy options for their children. Parents know that choosing organic will help ensure that their children are getting the safest, healthiest and most nutritious foods for their developing minds and bodies. Organic food may finally be coming full circle as the default choice for families. If trends continue, “organic” may be the new convention!
- Organic Trade Association. Eight in ten U.S. parents report they purchase organic products. Retrieved May 8, 2013.