Organic foods are foods produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide; however, organic farming in general features practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations regulating organic products may choose to restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers in farming.
Nowadays, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic within their borders. In the context of these regulations, organic food is food produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations. Although the produce of kitchen gardens may be organic, selling food with the organic label is regulated by governmental food safety authorities, such as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or European Commission.
Consumers can classify orgaic food by looking for organic labels. Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification based on government-defined standards in order to market food as organic within their borders. To be certified organic, products must be grown and manufactured in a manner that adheres to standards set by the country they are sold in:
- Australia: NASAA Organic Standard
- European Union: EU-Eco-regulation Sweden: KRAV
- United Kingdom: DEFRA
- Poland: Association of Polish Ecology
- Norway: Debio Organic certification
- India: NPOP, (National Program for Organic Production)
- Indonesia: BIOCert, run by Agricultural Ministry of Indonesia
- Japan: JAS Standards
- United States: National Organic Program (NOP) Standards
Organic Food in Thailand
The development of Thai organic agriculture occurs in two streams, i.e. the rural development oriented and the business oriented organic programmes. In the first stream, the key stakeholders are farmers and NGOs with a limited supports from local researchers. Their main goals are to support small-scale farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices in order to improve their livelihood and agro-ecological conditions in the rural areas. Their conversion strategies emphasize on raising farmers’ awareness on the negative impacts of agro-chemicals and the undue dependency on external markets and promoting indigenous knowledge of sustainable farming practices through seminar, research, study tour, and individual on-farm experiments. This approach had a limited success and some NGOs, since early 1990s, had started revolutionizing the strategies through incorporating economic (market) incentive and revising extension methodologies. As part of the strategies of this approach, a local organic certification body was founded to provide inspection and certification services to ensure better market access. This new approach is proven to be more effective as a large number of farmers had joined in the organic programmes.
The second stream is led by local entrepreneurs who have linkages to overseas markets. With such linkages, they (or their trading partners overseas) have noticed the emerging organic markets and see this as a business opportunity. As they normally lack of knowledge on production, especially organic farming, they thus engage local researchers and government agencies in helping them with farmers’ conversion. They also tend to use services of foreign organic certification bodies as suggested by their overseas trading partners. These early pioneers appear to be the large-scale business with export facilities, however, when the domestic market emerges, more and more of smaller local business and entrepreneurs come into the scene.