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Organic Food History: Then and Now - a Timeline


Organic Food Health Benefits

An overview of modern organic food history. The history of organic food includes organic certification programs, organic food health benefits, identifying and confirming organic food labeling, and more.

An organic food history demonstrates the relatively recent evolution of this more nutritious and tasty food. Organic food really came into being in the 1900s during the industrial revolution (prior to that farmers grew organic food 'naturally').


The history of organic food demonstrates the organic food health benefits - for humans, animals and the environment.

  • 1920s Sir Albert Howard carries out his work on composts in India
  • 1930s Until now, all food is organic, there is no other way! But artificial chemicals are starting to be used. Some farms resist: they are the first organic pioneers
  • 1939-45 Dig for victory - many people can't afford chemicals
  • 1946 Lady Balfour's landmark book The Living Soil is published setting out the early vision of the organic movement and leading directly to the Soil Association being established
  • 1950s It's a brave new world (and almost a lost cause). Let's squeeze more out of the land; we’ve got all these amazing pesticides and fertilisers
  • 1967 While the likes of John Lennon, Terence Stamp and The Rolling Stones are filling up on macrobiotic organics at the first organic café most people have not heard of organic food, but they will do ? because the first organic standards were established this year
  • 1973 Organic certification is introduced (and soon thereafter the organic logo and organic food labeling standards were developed)
  • 1983 Waitrose is the first supermarket to carry organics
  • 1993 Organic sales top £100 million
  • 2005 Organic sales reach £2 billion, and Tesco carries 1200 lines
  • 2007 Organic-led pressure forces the Government to reintroduce cookery into schools so future generations will not suffer the blight of poor food knowledge that has lead to diet-related diseases in the UK. Whole Earth Foods, the grand-daddy of organic foods celebrates 40 years
  • 2010+? Organic farms are so efficient they can carbon trade while 'conventional' farms are penalized for carbon-inefficiency?

The history of organic food continues to evolve over time. The economic meltdown of late 2008 and 2009 has put pressure on markets to reduce costs. However the additional costs of energy, chemicals, climate change and all the other impacts on the planet certainly offset the costs of organic food production.




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