In light of the new USDA rules (see yesterday’s post), I’ve been collecting information about organics.

PRODUCTION: the USDA’s latest (2008) survey results
come in 59 tables giving data on organic acres, productivity, and
anything else you might want to know about the this piece of the
agricultural sector – crops, vegetables, and animals.  Interesting
facts: more than 14,500 organic farms produce food on 4.1 million
acres, but all of this comprises less than 1% of farming in the U.S.

USDA ORGANIC PROGRAMS:  the USDA says the organic
agricultural sector is growing because farmers view it as a “way to
lower input costs, decrease reliance on nonrenewable resources, and
capture high-value markets.”  The USDA summarizes data on organic production by commodity, and explains its support and research programs.

NUTRIENTS: Remember the study last summer arguing that organic foods are no more nutritious than non-organic?  Now a French study comes to the opposite conclusion.   The authors claim that organics are
more nutritious
than non-organics.  I see organics as more about production values than
nutrition, so I expect these kinds of arguments to go on forever.

SAFETY: Are organics more likely to carry dangerous microorganisms because they are fertilized with manure?  Dutch researchers say not necessarily
If the manure compost is turned occasionally, the bacteria will be
killed.  My comment: all food should be produced safely and organic
rules specify how compost is to be used.