If you’ve made the switch to organic food, you aren’t alone.
In recent years, organic produce, meat, and processed foods have taken the world by storm, and the United States is no exception.
The Dawn Of Organic Crops
In 2015, organic farming reached a record high with 4.4 million acres cultivated in the USA, according to the USDA’s 2016 report (1).
A little over half of the acres were used for crops while the other half were used for pasture and rangelands. Compared to the 175.2 million acres of GMO crops grown in the USA in the same year, these numbers are still shockingly small (2).
The discrepancy between the number of acres of grown and the ratio of organic to conventional produce in grocery stores and restaurants is due to the fact that the United States actually imports most of its organic food and animal feed from European countries.
Europe has long lead the battle against GMO farming, especially Germany and France. At the very least, many have banned the use of glyphosate as well as GMO corn and soy.
Since the United States is such a large territory with a wide range of climate and agricultural challenges, some states have come on top in terms of organic farming while others have simply fallen short.
Here are 8 states that are leading the way for organic farmlands (3):
- California: 790,000 acres
- Alaska: 695,000 acres
- Montana: 251,000 acres
- New York: 239,000 acres
- Wisconsin: 210,000 acres
- Oregon: 176,000 acres
- Idaho: 167,000 acres
- Colorado: 152,000 acres
While these are the states that grow the most organic food, they aren’t necessarily the states with the most organic sales. California, however, both grows and consumes the most organic food in the country.
Considering that California also leads the country in terms of environmental laws and consumer safety, this isn’t very surprising.
Here are the top states in terms of organic food sales :
- California, $2,436 million sales
- Washington, $626 million
- Pennsylvania, $332 million
- Oregon, $269 million
- Wisconsin, $222 million
- New York, $221 million
- Texas, $210 million
- Michigan, $187 million
- Colorado, $155 million
- Arizona, $129 million
Sales On The Rise
Organic sales have gone up 13% since 2014 and are predicted to reach significant heights in the upcoming years. A little less than half of total sales came from organic animal products, which have been presented as a healthy alternative to antibiotic-filled conventional meats.
Here’s a breakdown of what organic foods Americans have purchased this last year, in yearly food sales :
Milk and eggs : $1,911 million
Vegetables : $1, 435 million
Fruits, nuts, and berries : $1,203 million
Livestock and poultry : $743 million
Field crops : $660 million
Mushrooms : $96 million
Organic produce is so high in demand that American farmers can’t keep up with demand and some giant retailers, like Costco and Wholefoods have taken to offering loans to farmers who want to switch from conventional to organic farming.
The process, which takes up to three years, isn’t easy. In 2014, 32 farms lost a total of $520,671 in revenue due to “unintentional presence of GMO material.”
Organic farming is more expensive, requires a bit of creativity, and amounts to more work than conventional farming, but it’s worth the extra effort. Organic farming is better for consumers, the environment, the nutrient profile of the crops, and the overall health of farming communities.
The best way to support organic farming is to make the conscious choice to pick organic products at the grocery store and to support local organic farming. You can also choose USDA-certified organic personal products and clothing.