Organic foods have moved from the margins of the U.S. food industry to the mainstream. Nearly 90% of all retail food stores now sell organically produced items. Natural food retailers, such as Whole Foods Market, with 270 stores nationwide, have proliferated since the first Whole Foods opened in Austin, Texas, in 1980. Organic food is a big business, with sales expected to reach $27 billion this year. While still small compared to the overall $670 billion market, organic food has been the fastest-growing sector of U.S. agriculture in the past decade, with annual sales growth approaching 20%. And as it matures, the organic food industry is learning to flex its marketing, lobbying, and legal muscles.
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