Processed organic food usually contains only organic ingredients. If non-organic ingredients are present, the United States and Australia limit that to 5% of ingredients. Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives, and are often processed with fewer artificial methods (no chemical ripening, no food irradiation, and no genetically modified ingredients, for example). Often, they are produced/processed using energy-saving technologies, and packaged using recyclable or biodegradable materials wherever possible.
Early organic food consumers were seeking fresh, non-chemically treated, or minimally processed food and bought directly from growers, right at the form or at farmers markets: Their mantra was, "know your farmer, know your food."
As demand for organic foods grew, with high volumes through mass outlets and supermarkets, the grower-consumer connection (and verbal verification) weakened and better standards evolved. Product labeling, like "certified organic," third-party inspections, and government regulations developed.
One US study found that organic farms had a 20% smaller yield from using 50% less fertilizer and 97% less pesticide. Also , because organically managed soil has a higher quality, drought will impact organic farmers' yields less than other farmers. A Danish study found that, for a given area, organic farms of potatoes, sugar beet and seed grass have half the output of conventional farms, suggesting that organic methods will be unable to feed the world's growing population. Another study suggests that raising average world yields to modern organic methods would increase the worlds food supply by 50 %.
Interestingly, while organic farming in developed countries produce roughly 92% of the yield of conventional agriculture, they produced 80% more than conventional farms in developing countries. This is because the materials needed for organic farming (ie access to quality manure to replenish soils) are more accessible than synthetic farming materials are to farmers in some poor countries.