1. Price
  2. Nutritional Value/Safety
  3. Antibiotic Use
  4. Supplemental Hormones
  5. Animal Feed
  6. Pesticides
  7. Fertilizers
  • Price

    Organic

    Often higher
    More labor, organic certification, lower yields and the need for separate marketing and processing all affect cost.


    Conventional

    Typically lower
    Farming practices and economies of scale tend to produce higher yields and reduce costs.

    Similarities

    To be sustainable, all farmers have to cover expenses for things like seed, feed, labor, fertilizer, taxes and energy.

  • Nutritional Value/Safety

    Organic

    Research shows little to no difference.


    Conventional

    Research shows little to no difference.

    Similarities

    Farmers pride themselves in growing safe, nutritious food for consumers.

  • Antibiotic Use

    Organic

    Not allowed. But, when necessary, will treat a sick animal and then remove it from the farm. The meat and milk is marketed through the conventional food chain.


    Conventional

    When necessary, will treat a sick animal. If used, FDA has strict laws about when meat or milk from that animal can enter the food supply.

    Similarities

    Farmers do not want to use antibiotics unnecessarily. Treating a sick animal when needed is humane.

  • Supplemental Hormones

    Organic

    Not allowed.


    Conventional

    May choose to use. Some beef and dairy farmers use FDA-approved hormones to produce more milk and meat, using fewer animals and resources. Hormone level differences in meat and milk from treated animals range from negligible to unmeasurable.

    Similarities

    Milk, meat and vegetables already contain naturally-occurring hormones.

  • Animal Feed

    Organic

    Organic crops only.


    Conventional

    Can choose to feed organic, conventional or biotech crops that improve yield, withstand drought and reduce pesticide use.

    Similarities

    The USDA and FDA have regulations governing animal feed, whether organic, conventional or biotech.

  • Animal Feed

    Pesticides

    Some synthetic (manufactured) substances allowed.


    Conventional

    Can choose from a greater variety of approved natural and synthetic substances.

    Similarities

    Pesticides are regulated by government agencies such as the FDA, EPA and USDA.

  • Fertilizers

    Organic

    Only natural fertilizer, such as manure.


    Conventional

    Options include natural or processed fertilizer.

    Similarities

    Fertilizers are made from natural elements whether natural or processed. (Nitrogen is nitrogen, no matter where it comes from.)