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How organic are you? - The Jakarta Post
Last modified: 2010-11-15 18:27:46

The question is no longer on whether to consume organic food, but on if your food is actually organic.

Organic foods have become a new buzzword for people in the city over the past five years in line with the increasing awareness about the importance of living a healthy life.

It has become a trend that somehow has drawn the attention of many investors seeking for opportunity in the city with a population of more than 9 million people by tapping into green business.

There is no wonder that people can easily find a wide variety of organic products on supermarket shelves from vegetables and meat products to seasoning, unlike in the past when it was difficult to secure organic supplies as they only be accessed in remote villages in Bogor, West Java.

But despite the current omnipresence of organic foods in the capital, the reliability of organic claims is being questioned.

A well-known dietitian in the capital, Wied Harry Apriadi, pointed out the matter during a short interview with The Jakarta Post.

Apart from the people's increasing familiarity with organic foods nowadays, Wied said not enough people knew what organic food was.

"People perceive being organic means the foods are being cultivated using no pesticides or other hazardous chemical contents. But it is actually more than that as the foods must be preserved in an absolutely chemical-free environment and that includes its environment," he said.

The absence of a national standardization, Wied believes, has worsened the matter.

"The Agriculture Ministry claimed it had a standard but I think it has not been properly disseminated to organic food suppliers. That's why all organic foods in supermarkets come with similar anti-pesticide labels but no one can confirm the accuracy of that statement," he said.

But for consumer Muhammad Ikhwan, 28, the problem may lie with the consumerism of organic foods in the city that may have taken a toll on his wallet.

The man, who has been eating organic foods since 2005, believes the price of organic products in the market have sky-rocketed with the value reaching twice or triple than that in the place of origin.

"It should not be like that as the production of organic foods requires less cost as farmers do not have to spend on pesticides," said the man, who works as an activist for an agricultural NGO.

Ikhwan believes the reason behind the soaring organic food price was related to the growing belief in the urban community that the these products are a lifestyle choice.

"This is just ridiculous," he said.

Wied begs to differ, saying that the production of organic foods requires special treatment and involves certain risks.

"To make sure that the land can grow organic crops, farmers have to leave the plot untouched for a while. This procedure has resulted in less harvest periods in a year," Wied explains, citing this as the reason why organic foods can be more expensive.

However, to reduce the economic burden of purchasing healthy food, Wied proposes a simple idea.

"Just pick unusual fruits or vegetables at markets. These small-sized production items have a smaller chance of being exposed to chemical substances," Wied said.

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post 11/04/2010

Keywords: indonesia, organic, Jakarta Post, organik, healthy, lifestyle
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