Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Organic Agriculture isn't Just Ecological, it's Economical!

Graph from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and
Rural Affairs

U.S. retail sales of natural and organic foods and beverages rose to nearly $39 billion in 2010, an increase of over 9% from the previous year (which is greater than the growth of conventional agriculture) and 63% higher sales than five years before.  The organic market is projected to grow by 103% between 2010 and 2015.  This would make annual sales over $78 billion in 2015.  The implications of this growth of organic agriculture are unclear.  Companies like Frito-Lay North America announced a production focus on “natural” and organic products.  While the term “natural” has no official meaning at the FDA, the commitment to organic might have an enormous impact on the natural foods marketplace.
This growth is reflected in land use figures as well.  According to E.L. Beck, at the Worldwatch Institute, in 2009 organic farming was practiced on 37.2 million hectares worldwide, a 5.7 % increase from 2008 and a 150% increase since 2000.  As a method to reduce input costs and environmental degradation, organic farming is increasingly being employed in developing countries and by small farmers.  A recent New York Times article covered the growth of organic agriculture in India as productivity increases and input costs decreased resulting in much higher profits.   


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