The Past, Present, and Possible Future of the Organic Foods Movement in the United States
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Due to scientific discoveries during the late 19th century, producers of commercial agriculture began manipulating food production with the use of synthesized chemical inputs and methods that altered the natural means of production. This shift produced some immediate and long term environmental consequences. The “organic” agriculture movement was a response to the growing threat of these ecological impacts, as well as other perceived social, health, and economic consequences of industrial agriculture. The organic movement originated, in the English speaking world,in the United Kingdom in the early 1900s and diffused to the United States during the 1940s.During the next several decades, the movement gained popularity through the work of organic scholars and activists. Beginning in the late 1970s some organic producers began to use more industrialized methods of production which challenged some of the classical organic standards. By 1990, the United States began working on some federal standards, issuing the National Organic Rule in October of 2002. The National Organic Rule allowed the National Organic Program, established in 1990 under the USDA, to regulate and accredit organic agricultural products. Have the use of “industrial organic” and the USDA organic standards shaped the current organic movement? This paper interprets the original ideals and objectives of the organic movement at the time of its conception and determines whether or not these ideals are realized in the modern era of organic food systems.