Today, however, the dream of “Organic for Everyone” is coming to life through
the proliferation of farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
and Farm to School programs throughout the nation. It’s being fostered by many
organic companies who are reaching out to bridge the gap through education
and economically savvy initiatives. It is even being introduced into governmental
programs through a new wave of leadership that sees the importance in providing
organic, healthy, nontoxic food to our children. It is a dream that is being grown
from the ground up by young organic farmers who see farming as a way to make a
positive impact in the world.
Progress So Far
While many changes need to happen
to make organic accessible and more affordable on all levels, the good news is
that today organic products are more accessible than ever. Globally, organic
acreage increased 6 percent in 2009
compared with 2008, to a total of more
than 91 million acres under organic production, according to data presented at
the 2011 BioFach world organic exhibition in Germany by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and
the International Federation of Organic
Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
In the United States, the industry has
rebounded significantly from the economic turmoil of the last few years, and
judging by Whole Foods Market’s rising
stock price, up from a 52-week low of
$33.96 to close at $65.68 on April 5, a litmus test for the industry overall, it looks
like organic continues to be poised for
strong growth in relation to the overall
market. In fact, total U.S. sales of organic
products grew 5. 3 percent to $26.6 billion in 2009, according to the Organic
Trade Association’s (OTA) 2010 Organic Industry Survey.
Consumers, of course, continue to drive the growth, as they are drawn to organic products one food safety concern after another. According to the “2009
U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Belief Study” conducted by Kiwi Magazine
and OTA, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of U.S. families buy organic products at least occasionally, chiefly for health reasons. The study also shows that 3 in
10 U.S. families ( 31 percent) in 2009 were actually buying more organic foods
compared with a year earlier, with many parents preferring to reduce their spending in other areas before targeting organic product cuts. In fact, according to the
survey, 17 percent of U.S. families said their largest increases in spending in the
past year were for organic products.
Organic Valley and
“Renegade Lunch Lady”
Chef Ann Cooper went
back to “old fashioned”
dispensers in order to
make organic milk
affordable to schools.
United States—which means we still
have a lot of people to reach. How do
we help consumers understand the
true cost of food and vote with their
dollars to support the organic movement? And how do we reach more economically challenged consumers and
change the perception (and sometimes the reality) that “organic is too
expensive” or that it is only for the
The Foundation for the Next Phase of the
While organic is gaining more
ground in the marketplace, much of
the progress in creating widespread access to organic is taking place in the
fertile soil of local communities—
through schools, farmers markets,
CSAs and community gardens. It is in
these grass-roots efforts to improve
their own communities that a true appreciation for organic is germinated.
This appreciation grows into a set of
values that leads these people to support the organic movement with their
own actions, from pushing for political
initiatives to supporting organic in the
How Do We Make Organic Accessible to Everyone?
While the organic industry continues to grow, the total sales of organic products still constitutes only 3 to 5 percent of the total spent on groceries within the
Organic in Schools
One area that has organic companies and local communities working
together is school lunch programs.
First lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s
Move! campaign led to the president
signing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids
Act of 2010—which includes a $10 million Organic Pilot Program to help
provide organic food choices in school
nutrition programs. The program is
dedicated to providing nutrition platforms to help improve the health of
students by eliminating nutritional de-ficiencies and risks for diseases, including childhood diabetes and obesity.
The initiative will be the first major upgrade to school lunch programs nationwide in more than 15 years.
Under the Organic Pilot Program,
competitive grants favoring socially dis-