The food and agriculture industry, according to the World Bank, is around 10% of global GDP of $78 trillion. The natural and organic food and retail industry of the world is estimated in 2015 to stand at $92 billion (deduced from Statista projection figures). US is the major market for organic products with a market of $55 billion. Other market intelligence agencies have estimated the global organic food market to be over $100 billion. Any which way we may look at this, the organic food industry still constitutes a small percentage of the global food industry.
An analysis conducted in the US estimates that if all crops were to be raised organically in 2014 then at current level of farm production additional 109 million acres of additional land will be required. The current acreage of land under organic farming in that country is under 1%.
Clearly if the world as a whole were to go fully organic, then we will not have enough food for everyone.
In conventional farming regular use of artificial fertilizer, mono-cropping and often no crop rotation does deteriorate soil health and reduce soil fertility. Nitrates present in the fertilizer is leached into the soil or goes as run off into water sources contaminating these. Use of heavy machinery for ploughing, harvesting and post- harvest operations compacts the farm floor destroying the natural soil structure.
Organic farms require less fossil fuel energy as machinery is not used in soil preparation and other farm operations. However conventional agriculture too can be made more sustainable and ecologically sound by adopting some of the traditional organic farming techniques like mulching, use of bio-pesticides and crop rotation (Pimentel et al., 2005).
A comparison of the nutritional value, sensory qualities and food safety of organically and conventionally produced foods was done. Except for nitrate content there is no strong evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in concentrations of various nutrients or even contaminants (Bourn et al., 2002).
Phenols are important to human health. Total content of this class of metabolites was studied in marion-berries, strawberries and corn cultivated in organic and conventional farms. A comparison was also made in the three most common post- harvest processing treatments — freezing, freeze-drying and air drying. In all cases the phenol content was higher in organically raised crops (Asami et al., 2003).