Organic foods are foods that are manufactured using organic farming standards. Those agricultural standards are regulated by the department of government responsible for them and contain regulations for the cultivation of food and animal welfare. In particular, the use of chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics is not allowed or only partly permitted. In addition, fewer food additives are permitted for the processing of organic foods. In the United States, organic foods are certified by the National Organic Program. Products which have fulfilled the criteria are labeled with the term ‘organic’ on the food packaging.
Organic food sales have experienced tremendous growth in the last decade. For this reason, not only specialized retailers sell organic foods but also traditional supermarkets and discounters. Widely known specialized organic retailers in the United States include Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market. Whole Foods Market is the largest specialized organic retailer in the United States with headquarters in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 1980 and operates more than 450 stores in the United States.
In general, organic foods are usually offered at a higher price level than their conventional counterparts. A recent survey revealed that consumers actively try to include organic products in their diet. Whether or not organic foods are healthier and more nutritious compared to conventionally farmed produce is a much debated subject. Up to now, no evidence of significant differences between the two farming methods where taste or health are concerned has been established.