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Organic Food in Southern California
Shoppers' concerns about diet and food purity are leading natural foods chains to expand their organic food selection and traditional grocers to stocking more organic and health foods. Even Walmart is getting into the organic food business!
San Diego County is the greenest spot in Southern Califronia -- with about 30 alternative grocery stores that devote significant space to organic foods.
Some of the stores that are expanding include:
Traditional grocery stores are also expanding their offerings of organic and natural foods. Safeway, Vons, Albertsons are all taking strides to offer more selection to their shoppers. Some mix natural and organic food with other groceries, while some pull out these foods in special sections with a more "natural" decor.
The natural and organic foods sector is the hottest topic in the supermarket industry today. 2006 is a watershed year for organic food availability.
Consumers need to educate themselves on what's available and some industry definitions that make a difference in what they are buying.
Natural food is a catch-all term used in the grocery business to describe healthy food
Organic food is certified to be grown pesticide and fungicide-free. Many small organic farms also use natural fertilizers vs. chemicals.
Wild food is another term that applies to food harvested from native plants and animals such as salmon and cranberries.
Sustainable agriculture refers to the entire process of growing and processing food both for human health and the health of the environment upon which production and liveability (air, water, wildlife and land quality) depends.
For meat to be certified organic, the animal cannot have had nonorganic feed, antibiotics or growth hormones.
Certification is conducted by state or USDA supervised agencies that visit the facilities and survey the practices. The United States Department of Agricultur (USDA) does not advocate for organic foods even though they certify the process. Their policy is based on their research that does not find that organic food is healthier than traditional farming methods -- in and of itself. All farming methods can be abused.
Because of this policy, some small organic farmers are taking their processes a step further and making distribution part of their value-added service. They feel that food produced on small farms with minimal mechanization, minimal chemicals, and direct to consumer delivery offers more freshness, taste and support of healthy, ecological management of the land.
Managment of the land is important because people interested in quality food are also interested in quality air and water -- and agricultural practices affect the quality of our shared fresh groundwater supplies in the entire watershed. And air quality is affected by soil management practices such as dust reduction and spraying chemicals on fields.
Organic food is part of the "green movement" -- that conserves and protects the natural systems of land, air, water, wildlife and habitat.
For more information about organics, try Organic Consumers