Agriculture is the beginning of all foods and food-based products. The natural products industry has a strong affiliation with organic agriculture. Organic agricultural production is a system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. The final standards for organic production were published in 2000. The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards. Other systems of agriculture growing in popularity include biodynamic agriculture, local agriculture and nutrient-dense farming.
As consumers have tuned into climate change, the food-health connection and energy consumption, they have become increasingly interested in agriculture—where and how their food is grown. This has led to a renewed interest in gardening and farming as an occupation—which is a good thing, considering the average age of an American farmer is 57. But according to a 2009 survey of UCSC farm apprenticeship students, America’s new crop of farmers is remarkably different than previous generations. More than 75 percent have college degrees, and at least half say that one of their primary goals is to educate people about healthier food.