"Organic ... or Not"

"Most organic consumers expect what they buy to be healthful, safe, and free of pesticides and chemicals, according to numerous studies by consumer groups, academics and marketing firms. Many assume organic food is grown by small farmers -- ideally, even locally -- using environmentally friendly methods and humanely treated animals.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they buy at least some organic products, often motivated by a desire to stay healthy, feed their families better food or prevent serious illness, such as cancer, according to the Organic Trade Association.

That concern for health has fueled an industry that's booming despite the recession. U.S. organic food sales have increased 500 percent since 1998 and now approach $23 billion annually, association reports show. ...

But sometimes consumers' perceptions of organic food don't jibe with reality."

Mary Beth Schweigert reports for the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal January 3, 2010.