Organic foods are produced according to strict production standards. For crops, it means they are grown without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste, or sewage sludge, and that they are processed without ionizing radiation or food additives. This is why, organic produce contains more nutrients and vitamins than conventionally grown food.
For animals, it means they are reared without the routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. Those antibiotics and hormones remain in the slaughtered animals toxins we don't want in our diets. Also, free-range, organically fed animals are treated more humanely. Eggs from organically fed free-range chickens have a higher nutrient value than commercially raised hens. Also, many non-organic eggs are treated with a chemical preservative to extend shelf-life.
In most countries, organic produce must not be genetically modified. Increasingly, organic food production is legally regulated. Currently, the United States, the European Union, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain organic certification in order to market food as organic.
Historically, organic farms have been relatively small family-run farms which is why organic food was once only available in small stores or farmers markets. Now, organic foods are becoming much more widely available organic food sales within the United States have grown by 17 to 20 percent a year for the past few years, while sales of conventional food have grown at only about 2 to 3 percent a year. This large growth is predicted to continue.