Organic Food in Schools Gains Popularity

by Nao Emzed on November 2, 2015 - 5:41pm

 

Organic food. A simple concept, the most vintage of all, yet ignored and underestimated for a long time by our society of consumers and economic growth at any price. It is only since the nineties and the early 2000's that consumers, tired of overconsumption, had a sudden act of conscience and embraced that movement again. More than a simple trend, it became popular and a whole market has been developed to satisfy a growing demand. Among the consumers, preoccupied parents started to question the quality of food served in cafeterias and the accessibility of junk food in schools has finally become an issue in North America. In fact, more and more institutions have started to offer organic menues and companies, seeing a great buissness opportunity, are nowadays encouraging the movement through partnerships and sponsoring. 

The twentieth century was marked by an impressive modernization and the introduction of the globalization concept. The food industry made no exception, as import and export opened the door to a whole new business perspective. Bigger markets, meaning more consumers, justified the use of pesticides. Soon, bigger quantities quickly replaced better quality. Until, one day, the public's eye saw past the advertisement images, when scientific researchers showed the downsides of such an industry. 

With the growing demand, the food industry adapted itself and organic products are now available in many mainstream supermarkets. According to the Organic Trade Association, the demand in dairy products and snacks, largely bought for children almost doubled since 2004 in USA. After supermarkets, change has now to occur I another area: schools. The parents efforts are starting to pay off, as many schools and companies  across the continent are starting a movement. For instance, since 2004, Horizon Organic, and American company, helped bring organic menues to more than 12 schools in the district of Palo Alto, CA. 

Chimically produced food can be dangerous for children because their digesting and assimilating systems are not fully developed, meaning they have a lower capacity to detoxify some chemical residues still in the food. Moreover, children are in constant development and therefore proportionally eat more than adults, might absorb more toxic substances. They are also exposed to higher risks of getting sick since their immunity system is not fully operational, especially against GMO's negative effects. Plus, organic food is more natural and has been also proven to be healthier. A research conducted in 2003 by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that most organic aliments in the US contained 58% more polyphenolics than chemically produced food. These substances act as antioxidants and are an important part of the development of children. The results also showed that organic aliments contained more as ascorbic acid, which is converted by the human body in vitamin C. 

To conclude, I believe more schools in Canada should follow this movement. It is obvious that eating organic food has major impacts on one's health and increasing its access to children would it certainty be a smart decision. Plus, I think it would bring awareness to them about the negative effects of chemically produced goods have on our health. It would also be interesting to compare their ecological footprints.

 

*News Activist does not accept ''copy-paste'' and I can't put my sources here* 

Comments

I think that you brought up an interesting topic and another viewpoint that is not necessarily thought of when it comes to organic food. However, I don’t believe that organic food necessarily correlates with less consumption. Organic agriculture refers to a different mechanism of growing food that does not involve pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers. The increasing demand for organic agriculture that you touched upon has resulted in the process being industrialized. So what started as a small scale practice has increased to a large scale, mechanized system that does produce a lot of waste. For example, most organic farms will spread black plastic over beds of plants, especially tomatoes, to prevent weed growth. There are hundreds of other examples where the production of organic foods and food in general is wasteful and by simply buying organic produce individuals are not decreasing their consumption. That said organic production is much better for soil and ecosystem health compared to conventional agriculture, and releases a significantly smaller proportion of chemicals into the environment.

While I believe that organic agriculture is a much better alternative to conventional systems, there remains a vast amount of environmental and social consequences from implementing an industrial-sized scale organic system, the effects of which could fill an entire book. From this I think it’s really important that people remain critical and do not overly romanticize organic agriculture.

This post is very interesting and thought provoking and has made me research a little about organic food! I agree with you on the part that organic food is important for the lives of children (and everyone for that matter). However, there are some flaws with organic food that I would like to point out. First of all, for an organic product to be organic, it has to be produced using no pesticides and harmful products. The thing is, how do we know that there is no harmful products being used? For example, if a farmer uses pesticides on his farm in a town, the wind and rain will collect these toxins and may be transported to the farmer’s field who grows organic food. There is no control for this. Second, most organic food has to be imported. There are emissions caused from the shipping of these goods. Also, your focus was on children in schools. I agree that children need better food in schools, however, most parents now a days have a hard time providing breakfast for their children in the morning. Organic food is more expensive and some parents may not be able to afford the luxury of organic food. If one were to use utilitarianism to describe this dilemma, which is “the doctrine that an action is right insofar as it promotes happiness, and that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principle of conduct” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism ) then we have to evaluate the majority of the children. Organic food would not promote the greatest good for the greatest number because a majority of the children cannot afford it. While this article presents some strong ideas, there are flaws to the idea of organic food that must be evaluated.

-iAmAnonymous

In reply to IA,Anonymous,

In order for food to receive an certified organic label it must go through a certification process, which includes an inspector periodically visiting the farm. This is a fairly extensive process and many small scale farmers can't receive the certification for the reason you listed - the pesticides and insecticides from neighboring farms blow over onto their crops. Buffer strips (normally in the form of tree lines) are used to decrease this, but this still means many small scale farmers can't meet the requirements of a full organic certification. If you really wanted to know how your food is grown, go to a farmer's market or buy a CSA (community shared agriculture) box. With that you will also be supporting local farmers and reducing transportation costs and emissions.

In regards to your other comment regarding cost. The food industry is highly subsidized so that prices don't fully reflect their true cost. Organic farmers do a better job at showing the true costs of food, and even then it is low compared to the amount of labor that goes into food production. Additionally organic food has long term benefits that consumers might not immediately appreciate, such as decreased impacts on the environment. With less pesticides and fertilizers entering aquatic systems, less restoration work must be done and there is fewer health impacts on nearby communities.

In reply to IAmAnonymous,

In order for food to receive an certified organic label it must go through a certification process, which includes an inspector periodically visiting the farm. This is a fairly extensive process and many small scale farmers can't receive the certification for the reason you listed - the pesticides and insecticides from neighboring farms blow over onto their crops. Buffer strips (normally in the form of tree lines) are used to decrease this, but this still means many small scale farmers can't meet the requirements of a full organic certification. If you really wanted to know how your food is grown, go to a farmer's market or buy a CSA (community shared agriculture) box. With that you will also be supporting local farmers and reducing transportation costs and emissions.

In regards to your other comment regarding cost. The food industry is highly subsidized so that prices don't fully reflect their true cost. Organic farmers do a better job at showing the true costs of food, and even then it is low compared to the amount of labor that goes into food production. Additionally organic food has long term benefits that consumers might not immediately appreciate, such as decreased impacts on the environment. With less pesticides and fertilizers entering aquatic systems, less restoration work must be done and there is fewer health impacts on nearby communities.