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AGEARTH STEWARDS
GOING ORGANIC FOR THE HOLIDAYS
From dried persimmons to wool and silk undergarments, a browse through organic Web sites may give you all sorts of holiday gift ideas for that hard-to-please person on your list. And the number and types of organic products continue to grow with demand, as more consumers seek to purchase goods marketed with an environmental slant.

In fact, the Natural Marketing Institute's report "Organic Consumer Trends 2001" found that environmental factors as an influence on product decisions increased in importance among the general population by 6 percent from 1999 to 2000 (the latest figures), and 21 percent among all organic users. More than 40 percent of all organic users were found to be between the ages of 36 to 55 and were 25 percent more likely to have a bachelor's or post-graduate degree.

"(Traditional) organic users and the general population are moving into closer alignment as organic products move into mainstream consciousness," the Institute reports. "Among the general population, organic use jumped 10 percent from 1999 to 2000, with 43 percent of the population using at least some organic products."

Organic growth is keeping pace with that demand, confirms Holly Givens, communications director, Organic Trade Association (OTA), Greenfield, Mass. OTA members estimate their industry is growing 20 to 25 percent annually, continuing the same double-digit growth recorded in organic food demand for the past several years. By comparison, OTA notes the conventional grocery industry grows at 3 to 5 percent annually.

"Until 1998, no study had detailed past and projected growth specifically in the organic processing or manufacturing sector. OTA contracted the Manufacturers' Market Survey that year to provide statistical insight into the rapidly expanding base of organic manufacturers. Responding members reported growth around 40 percent annually over the five previous years. A survey in 2001 showed overall growth of 38 percent from 1999 to 2000," Givens notes. "As people learn more about health, they learn more about how their health and the environment are linked, and organic products become an easy choice."

According to a study conducted in March 2001 by Roper Starch Worldwide, 63 percent of Americans buy organic foods and beverages at least some of the time. The study notes that eight of every 10 adults understand that organic products must be grown without the use of added hormones, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. The study also points out that even those who do not regularly buy organic do not believe organic marketing is a gimmick.

Global statistics mirror U.S. statistics. Consumers worldwide are estimated to spend $22 billion a year on organic products.

More U.S. producers are also embracing organic production as a potential alternative to traditional crop production. Roughly 0.2 percent of U.S. farmland is certified organic and is one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture.

"Interest in organic ag and products continues to grow, offering benefits for shoppers, producers and the planet," Givens says.

LOOKING FOR ORGANIC GIFTS?

If you want to see some of the organic gifts available for the holidays, check out these Web sites:

Danish Import Family Wear, www.elknet.net/kejser, for wool, silk and

cotton undergarments.

Garden Kids, www.gardenkids.com, for children's clothes.

Norm Thompson Outfitters, http://normthompson.com, for men's and women's clothing.

Organic Cotton Alternatives, http://organiccottonalts.com, for bedding.

Echoes of Summer LLC, http://echoesofsummer.com, for chutney, jams and conserves.

Hazelbrand Farm, www.hazelbrand.com, for soaps and sea salts.

Indigenous Babies, www.indigenousbabies.com, for baby needs.

Resting in the River LLC, www.riverherbs.com, for dried flowers and herbal products.

Organic Coffee Company, www.o-coffee.com, for coffee.

The Little Farm, www.flaniganfarms.com, for Fuyu dried persimmons.

Natural Meats Montana LLC, www.montanalegend.com, beef.

Uncle Matts, www.unclematts.com, for assorted citrus. /P>

For more information, visit www.theorganicreport.com. AM

Barb Baylor Anderson is a freelance writer from Edwardsville, Ill., who covers a wide variety of ag issues.


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