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Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming in general features practices that strive to cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations regulating organic products may restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers in farming. In general, organic foods are also usually not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or synthetic food additives.
With respect to chemical differences in the composition of organically grown food compared with conventionally grown food, studies have examined differences in nutrients, anti-nutrients, and pesticide residues. These studies generally suffer from confounding variables, and are difficult to generalize due to differences in the tests that were done, the methods of testing, and because the vagaries of agriculture affect the chemical composition of food; these variables include variations in weather (season to season as well as place to place); crop treatments (fertilizer, pesticide, etc.); soil composition; the cultivator used, and in the case of meat and dairy products, the parallel variables in animal production. Treatment of the foodstuffs after initial gathering (whether milk is pasteurized or raw), the length of time between harvest and analysis, as well as conditions of transport and storage, also affect the chemical composition of a given item of food. Additionally, there is evidence that organic produce is drier than conventionally grown produce; a higher content in any chemical category may be explained by higher concentration rather than in absolute amounts.