Organic food consumption shows an increasing popularity worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian organic market even outperforms other countries. According to a 2014 report of Australian Organic, “the organic industry was found to be worth $1.72 billion and is growing by 15% each year…The demand is also found to be outstripping supply by up to 40%” . Organic product exportation was also made possible since “Australia still has the largest area of organic land in the world." 
In 2014 alone, 69% of Australian food shoppers reported to buying at least one organic product in the past year . In addition, Oates, et al. also reported that majority of Australians consume at least 65% organic food in their diet . Organic fruits and vegetables remain the most purchased organic product in both 2012 and 2014 [1,2].
However, it is quite difficult to distinguish “true” versus “fake” organic products by just inspecting them. In fact, most Australians (64%) believe that the product is organic if the word “organic” is written on the label . Bruno, et al. of the Australian Organic thus concluded that “these results suggest many consumers do not understand the importance of organic certification labelling, and often rely on unsubstantiated marketing claims. False marketing claims are common in the hair care and beauty industry in Australia and it’s an issue Australian Organic continues to raise with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.” 
Nonetheless, there has been an increasing awareness of the 'organic certification mark' by the consumers. For example, an increase of 31% in 2012 to 38% in 2014 of consumers recognise the logo of the Australian Certified Organic , making it the most recognised organic certification mark among Australians. This is followed by NASAA and USDA Organic.
The Australian Certified Organic has been known to have the strictest standards in Australia. This certifier further claims that the “high quality of the Australian Certified Organic Standard has earned equivalence with a number of international organic standards, including the European Union, for livestock and wine export, whereas Australia’s national organic standard hasn’t been able to achieve this. Aside from pesticides and weed killers, Australian Certified Organic also prohibits the use of genetic modification or GMOs."  To know more about their guidelines, you may download their standards here. Some of the well-known Australian farms/producers certified by Australian Certified Organic includes:
Tamburlaine (NSW) -- organic wines 
The Organic Farm Gate (QLD)—organic fruits and vegetables 
Inglewood (QLD)—organic chicken 
What are the harmful effects of non-organic products?
Chemicals and pesticides
As compared to organic products, conventional products use pesticides and other chemicals to protect their crops or livestock. Studies consistently show that pesticide residues are substantially lower in organic food products  as also evident by lower dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites in the body [8,9]. The DAP is considered as a biomarker for exposure to organophosphate pesticides. In addition, one study also showed that a higher concentration of cadmium, a toxic metal, was found in conventional products . Some of the harmful effects of pesticides to consumers are summarised below:
1. Glyphosate (Trade name: Roundup): most widely used herbicide especially for GM food
Mostly found in: GM corn, soy, canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, wheat/flour
Dr. Sneff of MIT presented a video at the Mind International Conference held at Sydney last 2015 showing the possible link between glyphosate found in corn and soy and the occurrence of autism . A new case study was also published wherein 2 out of 3 triplets with elevated glyphosate levels, were found to have autism .
2. Pesticide residues: most common residue are endosulfans
Maximum limit set by the Australian government can be found here.
Studies show that dietary exposure to pesticide residues may cause the following:
Blood disorders 
Abnormal birth weight 
Poor semen quality 
Harmful effects of GMO
Due to food insecurity worldwide, scientists initiated the genetic modification of plants and materials to address this concern. However, critics are now pointing out at the harmful effects of GMOs among consumers. Some short-term and long-term undesirable health concerns include allergies, synthesis of toxic components and even resistance to antibiotics . Due to the controversies involved pertaining to health, more studies are required to determine the potential detrimental effect of GMO to health.
Aside from the use of pesticides, antibiotics which are given to livestock or incorporated in poultry feeds have caused some health concerns. This is largely due to the increasing incidence of antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to treat human infections. In a study done by researchers from Stanford University, it was noted that the risk of isolating bacteria resistant to 3 or more antibiotics was higher in conventional than organic chicken and poultry by 33% . Similar results were obtained by another study in 2015 that shows antibiotic-resistant enterococci, a common cause of UTI and gastrointestinal disease, was higher in conventional chickens .
What are the benefits of eating organic food?
Majority of Australian shoppers reported that they buy organic food products because it is free from chemicals, additives and is environmentally friendly . Aside from the fact that it is free from harmful toxic products such as chemicals, several studies have already provided evidence of the beneficial effect of eating organic food in improving overall health by lowering the risk of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and skin disease [21,22,23,24]. In addition, pregnant women who often consume organic vegetables have 20% lower risk of pre-eclampsia and prevent hypospadias [25,26]. Some of these beneficial effects may be due to the following:
High antioxidant levels
Compared with conventional produce, organic products are richer in polyphenols, especially flavonoids, which are known for each antioxidant activity . In fact, organic fruits and vegetables have “greater antioxidant activity, are more potent suppressors of the mutagenic action of toxic compounds, and inhibit the proliferation of certain cancer cell lines” . One example is beetroot and a stronger anticancer activity was found in organic fermented juice compared to conventional ones .
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are important in preventing various diseases. According to Crinnion, an Environmental Medicine professor, “organic varieties do provide significantly greater levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus than non-organic varieties of the same foods” .
A current meta-analysis also revealed that organic dairy products contain “significantly higher protein, ALA, total omega-3 fatty acid, cis-9,trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid, trans-11 vaccenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosapentaenoic acid than those of conventional types” . Similarly, organic meats were found to have a higher level of good fats (PUFA and omega-3) .
Recommended organic food products
Based on the amount of pesticide residue, the Environmental Working Group produces a list known as the “Dirty Dozen” every year depending on the results of the tests done by the USDA . Switching to organic counterparts of the following food products would be a viable option:
11. Sweet bell peppers
Note: only the 2017 top 12 food products were shown. For a more comprehensive list, click here.
Dr. Jason Barritt,
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