Organic Food Production and Consumption Policies and Strategies

Organic Food Production and Consumption Policies and Strategies

José G. Vargas-Hernández
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6926-9.ch023
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This chapter aims to analyze the main factors of the production and consumption of organic products, as well as their policies and strategies. The analysis is based on the premise of the sustainable development of the production, distribution, and consumption systems of organic products that have the potential to improve the quality of life levels of producers, consumers, and society. It is concluded that the production and consumption of organic food is based on a more favorable agriculture, as well as by providing more nutritious and healthy food for consumption.
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Current food systems have become highly dependent on oil. Food system emissions from production to consumption, contribute with more than 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Vermeulen et al, 2012). Dependence of the food system on fossil fuels has a high environmental impact on human diets. Organic food production is limited by environmental destruction due to the countryside crisis. Agricultural industrial practices degrade food systems with contaminated and poor-quality products, with ecological services and ecosystems that worsen the quality-of-life conditions. In the consumer society in which one lives, consumers who are submissive to advertising and the influence of the media have developed a reduced capacity in making purchase and consumption decisions in such a way that the products acquired to meet the needs, are used, and are thrown away.

Consumerism is expressed in the acquisition of unnecessary and superfluous products, as well as exceeding in the purchase of basic goods, whether basic needs are met. The food called “junk” generates damage to people's health and the environment due to the overexploitation of natural resources and pollution.

Alternative, agro ecological and organic agriculture as ways of life, integrate the traditional knowledge of indigenous peasants with the knowledge derived from the advances and innovations of science and technology to conserve natural resources, improve biodiversity and ecosystems to produce food healthy ones of better nutritional quality, and in a fair working environment (Torres Serrano, 2002). Organic products do not use agrochemicals to generate a self-sustaining production system, which is based on natural inputs and good agro ecological practices. The aim of this sustainable production system is to care for and protect the environment, harvest fresh and process products free of toxic waste.

Agro ecological and organic food production is interconnected and interdependent human, nature, and ecological processes more focused on conservation and food affordability. It is possible to feed the growing population considering the interactions, interdependencies, and feedbacks of the technological, economic, social, and environmental dimensions of a sustainable agro ecological systems (De Schutter, 2014, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity TEEB 2015)

Organic and agro ecological food are alternatives to those products of large-scale industrialized agricultural origin, they are free of fungicides, pesticides, agrochemicals, herbicides, and antibiotics. The responsible consumption of organic food products takes into consideration the environmental impact of the production, distribution processes including logistics and transport, consumption and waste, the ecological footprint of lifestyles and human rights to consumption. The consumption of organic products is a worldwide trend because of a change of materialistic values to post-materialists based on a greater interest in improving the quality of life, biodiversity and sustainable environment, personal self-realization, democratic society, inclusion, and social justice, etc.

The concept of food justice as an attribute of agro ecology and organic food systems is being used by government agencies, community and social organizations and some academics (Cadieux & Slocum 2015). Food justice movement calls about the disparities and dysfunctionalities perpetuated in the dominant and traditional food systems and the alternative agro ecological and organic food systems as well as the disparities that exist from production, distribution, and consumption in any food system (Alkon & Agyeman, 2011).

Agro ecological and organic food justice advocates engage in urban agro ecology with the aim of expanding access to healthy food (Rajan & Duncan, 2013; Mares & Alkon, 2011; Reynolds & Cohen, 2016). The agro ecological and organic food justice movement brings awareness on the disparities embedded in any agro ecological and organic food systems, advocates policies, strategies, and practices such as place-based projects in urban agro ecology and tries to change the food system using politics to achieve more fair food system (Santo, Palmer, & Kim, 2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Agro Ecology: It is the discipline that is responsible for managing the ecological principles of the production of food, fuel, fiber, and pharmaceutical products. This encompasses a wide range of approaches, and they consider it a science and a way of looking at life, whether organic, conventional, intensive, or extensive.

Policy: Is an activity oriented ideologically to the decision-making of a group to achieve certain objectives.

Production: The process of manufacturing, elaborating, or obtaining products or services.

Organic Food: Are those that do not involve chemical substances in their production process such as pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.

Consumption: It is the action of using and/or spending a product, a good or service to meet both primary and secondary human needs.

Strategy: It is a plan that specifies a series of steps or nuclear concepts that allow the use of available resources and that are aimed at achieving a certain objective.

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