Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming features practices that cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations regulating organic products may restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers in the farming methods used to produce such products. Organic foods typically are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or synthetic food additives.
In the 21st century, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification to market their food as organic. Although the produce of kitchen gardens may actually be organic, selling food with an organic label is regulated by governmental food safety authorities, such as the National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or European Commission(EC).
From an environmental perspective, fertilizing, overproduction, and the use of pesticides in conventional farming may negatively affect ecosystems, biodiversity, groundwater, and drinking water supplies. These environmental and health issues are intended to be minimized or avoided in organic farming. However, the outcome of farming organically may not produce such benefits because organic agriculture has higher production costs and lower yields, higher labor costs, and higher consumer prices.
Demand for organic foods is primarily driven by consumer concerns for personal health and the environment. From the perspective of science and consumers, there is insufficient evidence in the scientific and medical literature to support claims that organic food is either safer or healthier to eat than conventional food. While there may be some differences in the nutrient and antinutrient contents of organically and conventionally produced food, the variable nature of food production, shipping, storage, and handling makes it difficult to generalize results. Claims that “organic food tastes better” are generally not supported by tests.