What Are Conventional Foods?

Conventional foods are foods that have been produced through conventional, as opposed to organic, methods of farming. While organic farming and organic foods are strictly regulated, conventional foods are not subject to the same requirements, and as a result, may contain antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, pesticides or herbicides.

For a food to be labelled as “organic,” it needs to meet a stringent set of requirements and standards set out by the United States Department of Agriculture. Foods that fall outside the scope of these requirements, but are still within the standard legal requirements for food production, are referred to as conventional foods. This means that while the requirements for organic foodstuffs prohibit the use of things, such as growth hormones and antibiotics on livestock and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on produce, these technological developments are still legal and may be found in food produced through conventional farming methods.

Conventional farming is generally cheaper than organic farming as a result of these technologies, meaning conventional foods are often cheaper than their organic counterparts. Conventional foods may also be genetically modified or contain genetically modified organisms, while the use of GMOs is prohibited in organic foods by the National Organic Program.