Though known colloquially as food that is grown to be more healthy (and is more expensive), in order for organic food to be certified as such, it must be produced under specific, legally-regulated standards and be subject to testing in order to retain certification.
Organic food: the definition
In agriculture, this means that crops were grown without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers or sewage sludge, and that they were processed without food additives (like chemical preservatives). When it comes to animals, they must be reared without the routine use of antibiotics and growth hormones and fed a diet of organic foods. In most countries, organic produce must not be genetically modified.
Organic food "stores": a history
Historically, organic produce was almost exclusively available directly from small family-run farms or at community farmer's markets. Lately, though, organic foods are becoming much more widely available; organic food sales in the United States have grown by 17 to 20 percent a year for the past few years, while sales of conventional food have grown more slowly, at about 2 to 3 percent a year. This explosion in popularity has led the way for bigger companies, like Wal-Mart, to get into the organic food business and change the way that organics are perceived and, to a certain extent, the way they're produced.
Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of organic certification, the market for organic food and more.