Current crop productivity levels of organic farms average 20% lower than conventional farms. Foods certified as organic are observed to command prices that are 10 to 30% above the average. The cost of getting an organic label is quite high.
Farms are certified only after following organic farming for three years. By this time, the soil has become free of any chemical fertilizers, the microflora too would have returned to a healthy state. In conventional farms, due to the cultivation practices observed, the first casualty is the soil microcosm.
Labels are valid for a year and follow a rigorous certification process: from agricultural production to processing, and final product packaging. This process verifies excluding the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemical plant protection agents in crop production, artificial additives during the processing of food. It further seeks to strengthen a production cycle aimed at improving soil and foodstuffs.
A nutritional quality comparative assessment study for fruits, vegetables, and grains raised in organic and conventionally raised crops showed that the former contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly fewer nitrates (Worthington, 2001).
Phenols are important to human health. The total content of this class of metabolites was studied in marionberries, 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).
As the awareness of the importance of compounds that help protect the human body from disease is understood, this difference between organic and conventional crops became an area of interest of researchers. Organic vegetables and fruits were more likely to contain more of these defensive compounds when compared to those produced in conventional farms (Brandt et al., 2001).
The demand for most organic food is often seen to outstrip supply. This too leads to these products fetching higher prices in the market.
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