Organic to maintain good health of the people

Organic farming is one of the ancient agricultural system that originated early in the 20th century. The age old practice of organic farming relies on the use of fertilizers of organic origin and emphasises on the beneficial  techniques as crop rotation and companion planting. Organic standards are designed to allow the use of naturally occurring substances while restricting synthetic substances. Organic products are  produced without the use of any chemical substances which may cause health hazards to human life. These products are grown with an environmentally and socially responsible approach avoiding the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.The emergence of Organic products is a result of the increased consciousness of sustainable methods of agriculture, awareness towards envionment conservation and health hazards and the choice of consumers for safe food. (Singh 2003). The motive behind producing organic products is to produce healthy and quality food. Thus, organic farming not only preserves environment but also helps to maintain good health of the people and is produced with an ois significant both economically and socially. Various studies have been performed to compare the health value of organic products to conventionally produced products.What are Organic Products:Organically produced food emphasizes on the natural and environment friendly production practices and restricted use of artificial chemicals (Klonsky K 1998). Organic products have become the choice of the consumers with the increasing environmentalism and health consciousness. Organic products are preferred not only in food sector but also in other sectors as cosmetics, personal care, fabric etc. Indian consumers are switching from inorganic products to organic as a result of the awareness towards environment and health issues (Paul et al 2015). A consumer’s buying decision of an organic product is made by comparing various characteristics. Organic product consumers make their purchase decision based on quality and safety standards. (Vindigni G 2002) The characteristics of organic foods are classified into general and commodity specific attributes. Food safety, human health and environmental concern fall in the category of general attributes whereas the commodity specific attributes are taste, freshness, nutritional value etc. (Hansen 1981). The consumers may not be able to differentiate the organic and conventional products based on general attributes but the sensory characteristics (taste, freshness etc) can be recognised. However; a differentiation based on these is also difficult unless the quality signals as product label enable  the consumers. A number of researches reveal the fact that health is the primary factor behind the consumption of organic products (Hughner et al 2007). The characteristics of the organic food act as an input in the consumer’s demand of good health and the price of it becomes the investment in health. The relation between food quality attributes and consumer’s preference of organic food raises the need for the comparision of organic and conventional foods.Comparision between Organic and Conventionally grown products:The superiority of organic products over the conventionally grown ones is a matter of continuing debate. Some consumers prefer organic products with the perception of the superior attributes of the organic products over conventional ones, however; these attributes are difficult to identify visually. Whereas, the reason why some consumers do not purchase organic food is linked to a perception that such foods are not better than their conventionally grown alternatives (Jolly D.A 1989). Various studies have been done to find the differences between the organic and conventionally produced products.The consumers are influenced by the nutrient level, sensory and safety attributes while choosing between organic and conventional products. Food quality and quality in the organic food production systems is one area that has received much attention in the debate on differences between organically and conventionally produced foods (Bourn D 2002).Consumers considered product taste, freshness and shelf life while purchasing organic products. Some studies revealed that organic products have better taste and are fresh whereas other studies reported that there is no difference in the taste of organic and conventional products (Jolly D.A 1989). Several studies revealed that organically produced crops are low in nitrates and are rich in phenolic compounds and Vitamin C which are good for health. The formation of nitrites is hampered by vitamin C, and the higher levels of phenolic compounds and other dietary phytochemicals present in organic crops retard carcinogenesis, rendering organic vegetables an important anticarcinogenic role (Ewa Rembialkowska 2007). There are various studies done to compare the nutrient levels in organic and conventionally produced foods. The organic crops contain higher concentration of important polyphenols and anti-oxidants and the intake of these nutrients help in improving public health. Organic plant-based foods are more nutricious and safe(Charles Benbrook 2008). Some studies investigated that organic products have less microbial contamination but on the other hand there were contrasting revealations by other studies. Bacterial isolates from food animals raised organically appear to show less resistance to antimicrobial agents than those from food animals raised conventionally (Winter & Davis, 2006). Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally Benefits of Organically Produced Food:High Nutritive value – Organic food is rich in nutrients as compared to conventional foods.Chemical free – The avoidance of the use of chemicals and pesticides save humans from the toxins severely affecting their health. Taste and Freshness – The taste and freshness of the organic foods make them a better choice for the consumersSupports Local economy – The buying of organic products especially from the farmers’ market helps the local economy to grow.Investment on Health – Organic products though price premium are an investment on the good health of the consumers.Environment friendly – The organic farming being free from the hazardous chemicals donot have any harmful effects on the environment.Consumer Perception Towards Organic Products:The aware and health conscious consumers have turned towards safe and harmless organic products. The increasing interest in the organic products has led to raised demand of it which further resulted in several studies been done  on consumers’ perception and preference of organic products inorder to srve their actual needs and wants. The regular organic product consumers are classified as educated, higher social class people who are health as well as environmentally concerned (Padel S,Foster C 2005). Organic consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic products. According to a study done in Germany, female  respondents have a significant higher WTP for apple attributes,while significant higher WTP values for beef attributes are observed for male respondents (Rebecca Illichmann 2013)The use of pesticides or synthetic fertilisers is avoided in organic foods and it contains fewer chemical residues and veterinary drugs compared to conventional food. Environmental contaminants however are likely to be found in food of both productions. Organic food contains only one-third of pesticides that conventional food does (Baker et al, 2002)Consumers who are more health conscious and concerned about natural foods are more likely to consume organic foods. Women are found to be more health-conscious about the implications of chemical residues and preservatives (Yiridoe et al, 2005).Several comparative studies on foods as cereals , vegatables, beer, wine, bread, milk, egg and the foods made from them have been done. These studies investigated the levels of pesticide residues and encironmental cotaminants. The results showed that the conventional produced products have higher concentration of nitrates and pesticide residue whereas in organic production these levels were low (Woese et al 1997).The Price Factor:Organic products are charged at an additional price as compared to conventional products. Numerous studies have been done to justify the price premium on organic products in relation to human health, environment conservation and sensory attributes (Fillion and Arazi 2002). The willingness to pay for organic products relies on the income of the consumer. The educated  consumers with higher income levels tend to buy organic products compared to others (Padel and Foster 2005). The consumers’ demand for organic food is strongly influenced by knowledge and attitude of consumers, price as well as food attributes of organic products (Sangeetha 2015). The price factor plays a important role in the buying decision of organic products.Conclusion:The growing interest in organic products has resulted in many studies comparing the impact of organic and conventional food on human health and environment. The sensory attributes as high nutrient level, freshness, taste and appearance are appealing to the consumers. Consumer perception towards organic products is highly subjective. The availabilty of high quality safe organic products at reasonable price will attract more buyers and increase the demand of these products. The lack of chemicals and pesticide residue will not only improve human health and fight health hazards but also help in environment protecton. Efforts are to be made at individual and government level to promote the consumption of organic products to avoid health and environmental hazards.