Why You Should Be Paying More Attention To Organic Food
Being in the foodservice business, you’ve probably heard the term “organic” more than once and how it is supposed to be this next big thing in the business. If you’re wondering if it is the real deal, and interested in transitioning to a fully organic food business or at least incorporating organic ingredients to your current menu items based on what you’ve heard, questions like “what makes food organic” and “why is it good for you and your business” are certainly on your mind, so we’re here to give you a crash course on organic food.
How is organic food different from its conventional food?
- No synthetic or chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides
- No growth hormones or non-organic GMO feed used to accelerate growth of livestock
- No antibiotics and medications for disease prevention in livestock
- Better conditions for livestock including access to outdoors
Is “organic” the same as “natural”?
The short answer is no. Food labelled as “natural” would give the impression that it has undergone little to no processing, and it actually does when talking about meat and poultry. Unfortunately for everything else, “natural” can mean different things depending on who manufactured the product or where you’re buying. The FDA has no set definition for it, so it is easy for producers and vendors to slap a “natural” label on a product like high-fructose corn syrup.
Organic, on the other hand, is well-defined with rules and regulations surrounding its use on food products. So an “organic” label really tells you that the product has passed a rigorous series of inspections and assessment and a stringent set of requirements, one of which being that there should be three consecutive years of no pesticide treatment on soil before getting certified.
Why is organic food better for you
It’s great for health
Organic food retains a higher level of nutrients compared to their conventional counterparts. The use of only naturally-derived pesticides makes organic food a lot safer to eat. When it comes to meat, organically raised livestock are much less likely to develop mad cow disease and antibiotic-resistant bacteria because no antibiotics or animal byproducts are fed to the animals. Since they are provided with better living conditions than their conventionally raised counterparts, they also tend to be healthier. The lack of preservatives also makes it the fresher and longer-lasting option.
It helps the environment
There’s still a long way to go before we fully understand the effects of organic food on the environment. In the academic sphere, it remains the subject of heated debate, but one thing has been confirmed. Due to the lack of pesticides, organic agriculture helps mitigate pollution and soil erosion and lessens water and energy consumption.
It provides lucrative business opportunities
Organic food is immensely profitable! Just how much? Sales for organic food hit $47.9 billion in 2019, generating an increase of 5.9 percent. What’s causing the massive boost? Well, over the years, customers have garnered more insight into the advantage of choosing organic food. And it turns out that they are willing to pay extra to ensure that their dining solutions practice perceived ethical and environmental standards.
Customers are starting to demand for greater sustainability and transparency. They want to do their part in protecting the environment through how they eat and who they do business with. They want to know where their food is coming from, how it got to their table, and how it affects the planet. As a result, they are more likely to support a restaurant that shares their goal.
Finally, as an entrepreneur passionate about food, you can inject added variety to your culinary operations and enjoy more opportunities to be creative and stand out.
But why is organic food more expensive?
When deciding whether or not the organic route is for you, the higher costs involved are often the dealbreaker. Why is organic food more expensive than conventional food in the first place? By having a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in the production of organic food and the exclusive benefits that comes from its consumption, you will be able to better communicate its value to your customers. If the price is still a hard sell, it might take a little nudging to get customers on board. But fret not, there is a convincing story behind the shiny price tag.
In a nutshell, organic food is priced the way it is because it comes in limited supply, but involves greater amount of labor, care, and technology to offer greater value.
Organic food producers are making conscious efforts to lessen environmental impact and prioritize animal welfare during operation. They also take extra steps to protect farmers from health risks that are typical in conventional production methods that use synthetic, often toxic pesticides and other chemicals. Organic food production also contributes to rural development by generating more jobs and ensuring fair income.
Organic food requires additional resources to power more environmentally responsible food production systems. Processing and transporting organic produce also call for additional resources absent in conventional operations due to the mandatory segregation. Even marketing and distribution drive up the expenses because of the small volumes and other limitations imposed during post-harvest.
Thankfully, it looks like the price won’t be this high forever. As organic food reaches mainstream status, experts foresee a surge in the development of new technological innovations and processes that will make it the new normal and, in turn, reduce the costs across all stages of production.
How to store organic food
If you’re ready to switch to organic food, it’s time to think about the changes you will make to accommodate it. One of the greatest selling points of organic food is its freshness. So as your first step, having proper kitchen equipment goes a long way in preserving the shelf life of organic ingredients. Being familiar with the ideal storage temperatures for different fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining their original quality. This task is instantly more challenging due to the absence of chemical treatments used during post-harvest, making it all the more crucial to get right.
It is vital to separate organic fruits and vegetables according to the temperature in which they will need to be stored. Most fruits are safe to store in 32 to 36 ⁰F while items like cucumber, eggplant, basil, mango, lemon, and apple like it warmer at 45 to 50 ⁰F. Potato, banana, pumpkin, and ripe tomato should be kept at 55 to 66 ⁰F.
With an understanding of the perishability and potential storage shelf life of each organic ingredient, you’re putting yourself in a much better position for success. Apple, pears, mature potatoes, dry onion, pumpkin, sweet potato, and garlic can last a while. Apricot, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, mushroom, spinach, sweet corn, and any fruit and vegetable that underwent minimal processing will last the shortest. Moreover, the likes of blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries should be arranged in single layers to keep moisture from building up from where they touch.
Freshly harvested organic produce is prone to bacteria, yeast and mold cells. A good organic food supplier should enforce proper hygiene practices and maintain a clean and sanitary packinghouse. Research organic farms near your area and ensure they are taking all the steps to properly produce and handle organic food.
When it’s time to get cooking
Support your organic menu with a superb kitchen. If you plan to serve organic pastries, a complete set of bakery equipment will allow you to whip up just about anything on your menu. If you want greater flexibility in your kitchen, you will find a lot of that in a commercial convection oven, which can bake and roast much faster than a standard oven.