Conventional foods are those that have been produced using conventional farming methods as opposed to organic methods. While organic farming and organic foods are subject to tight regulations, conventional foods are not, and so may contain antibiotics, synthetic fertilisers, growth hormones, pesticides, or herbicides.
For a food to be labelled as “organic,” it must meet a demanding set of USDA-mandated rules and standards. Conventional foods are those that fall beyond the scope of these standards but nonetheless adhere to the usual legal requirements for food production. This implies that while the requirements for organic foods restrict the use of substances such as growth hormones and antibiotics on livestock and synthetic fertilisers and pesticides on produce, these technological advancements are still lawful and can be found in conventionally produced food.
As a result of these innovations, conventional farming is generally less expensive than organic farming, and conventional foods are frequently less expensive than their organic counterparts. Conventional foods may also be genetically engineered or contain genetically modified organisms, however the National Organic Program prohibits the use of GMOs in organic foods.