What is Organic Agriculture and Food?

International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements or IFOAM, the worldwide umbrella organization for organic agriculture movement, defines organic agriculture as a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic food products are harvested from certified organic farms.

Why is organic and natural food most talked about these days?

Organic foods have higher nutritional value than conventional food, according to some research, because the absence of pesticides and fertilizers boosts plants’ capacity to produce phytochemicals i.e. vitamins and antioxidants that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. Organic products contain fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides and insecticides are widely used in conventional agricultural farming and residues remain in the food grains that we eat. Between 1997 and 2005, pesticide killing in India overall topped 190,000 people, enough to clear out a small city. Every year, thousands of farmers fall prey to ill affects of chemicals they apply to their crops where majority succumbs to death due to poisoning.

What are the standards of farming that define “organic” in India?

The overall standard covers broader heads like: No toxic or persistent pesticides or herbicides, no synthetic fertilizers, no genetically modified organisms, no antibiotics, no synthetic growth hormones and no color. In India, the National Programme for Organic Production (hereinafter referred to as ‘NPOP’) provides an institutional mechanism for the implementation of National Standards for Organic Production (hereinafter referred to as ‘NSOP’). The aims of the NPOP, inter alia include the following:

  • To provide the means of evaluation of certification program for organic agriculture and products (including wild harvest, aquaculture, live stock products) as per the approved criteria
  • To accredit certification programs of Certification Bodies seeking accreditation under this program
  • To facilitate certification of organic products in conformity with the NSOP
  • To facilitate certification of organic products in conformity with the importing countries organic standards as per equivalence agreement between the two countries or as per importing country requirements
  • To encourage the development of organic farming and organic processing

There are 28 certifying agencies in India for organic farming accredited under the NPOP program.

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What is the difference between “organic” and “natural”?

Unlike products that are labeled “organic”, products labeled “natural” require no certification. “Natural” is used in a variety of contexts and does not necessarily relate to health, growing methods or animal welfare. In India, Participatory Guarantee System for India (hereinafter referred to as ‘PGS’), a decentralized Organic Farming Certification System, provides a scope to define food as natural during the conversion period of farms from non-organic to organic.

Do organic and natural food products generally cost more than conventional foods?

Many organic food products do cost more. The good news is that the price of organic foods is increasingly competitive as supply chain continues to rise. The most available organic products may cost just a few rupees more than their conventional counterparts. Prices also reflect costs to maintain stricter regulations governing all of the steps of organic farming – growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. But, do think about the long-term effects of consuming safer and healthier food products.

Is everything at Organics Food Market “organic”?

We also sell natural food products along with organic products. Not to worry, as natural food products are also sourced from farmers who follow safer norms of farming. Natural food products go through the same process of quality checks as organic food products.

What are the standards of food products sold under Organics Food Market?

Our range of organic food products is under US National Organic Program and Indian NPOP organic standards. Our organic food products are certified by SGS India, an accredited certification bodies under NPOP and lab tested by Mitra SK Labs, a NABL certified laboratory. We are registered under Food Safety and Standards Authority of India Act.

From where does Organics Food Market source food products?

We source our products from small and marginal farmers located in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam. We call it as Affiliated Farmers Network Programme. We also deal with small farmer groups recognized under Participatory Guarantee System Regulations for sourcing organic and natural products. Our food products are packaged in a gluten free facility located in Kolkata. Our foods packages are built with high quality materials, which are absolutely safe with food products.

What is Affiliated Farmers Network Programme?

We, at Organics Food Market, believe in nature-friendly economically viable and sustainable agriculture and thus to facilitate this vision, we support small and marginal farmers in India in improving their livelihoods by organizing training sessions about organic methods of cropping, developing their land and hence conversion to a better method of sustainable agriculture – organic farming.

What are the methods to further test food products for quality?

Basic tests like Detect Adulteration with Rapid Test (DART) to test presence of food adulterants in milk and milk products, oil seeds sugar, food grains, spices and condiments could be employed. Further, spectrophotometry, chemical precipitate test could be done in approved food testing laboratories to find out chemical precipitate in food grains. All our food products are tested thoroughly by our testing partner, Mitra SK Laboratories, before packing.