Organic food demand on the rise

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Genetically modified organisms - a controversy for years now. Sixty-four countries around the world require GM foods to be labeled, but it’s not required in the United States or Canada.

With GM traits, crop yield is increased while maintaining a tolerance against insects and herbicide. Meanwhile, studies have been finding that pesticides continue to threaten the nation’s health.

Naturopath and owner of Back to Nature Holistic Wellness Center, Jodi Harris, has been in the holistic business for almost three decades. She says more people are looking for holistic alternatives to medicine and food. Holistic medicine is the art and science of healing that integrates conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease.

“Most countries have a warning label for GMOs.” Harris says. “This country does not. People are waking up. I’ve been in this business for 28 years, and I see more people - even medical doctors - coming in, doing the research, taking supplements, getting off medications.”

Harris says the toxins can wreak havoc on our bodies with time.

“The pesticides have been linked to cancers, the immune system in animals, your endocrine systems, infertility, brain damage, birth defects,” she says. “And of course your obesity and diabetes, which go hand-in-hand.”

The organic food trend seems to be growing. Organic sales have increased from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $43.3 billion in 2015. The number of certified organic U.S. farms and businesses have grown 13 percent since 2016.

According to the Organic Trade Association, out of 48 states (excludes Alaska and Hawaii), South Dakota ranks at the very bottom when it comes to organic product purchases. The national average for organic purchases comes in at 82 percent, while South Dakota comes in at 62 percent.  

Harris says price and availability were once an issue, but things are improving.

“Sometimes there’s not always a lot of organic available,” Harris says. “But there’s becoming more and more all the time. Even in Wal-Mart and Safeway, and of course, your health food stores - that’s what we’re all about. It’s getting more popular because of the demand, what people want. And they want healthy foods, so they stay healthy.”

Across the United States, the Organic Trade Association states that the USDA seal is trusted by over 75 percent of families.

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