As consumers become increasingly interested in the safety and quality of the food that they put in their bodies, organic food has enjoyed strong growth. Sales rose from $11 billion in 2004 to $27 billion in 2012, according to the USDA.

But what does "organic" really mean, and does the label meet consumers' expectations? Do shoppers know that the Horizon Organics brand -- darling of the urban food co-op -- belongs to decidedly conventional Dean Foods (NYSE:DF)? Or that Hain Celestial (NASDAQ:HAIN) has been dogged recently by accusations of false organic labeling, leading to a class action lawsuit?

Motley Fool contributor Sara Murphy discusses the tensions at play in consumer food preferences, as well as why Monsanto (NYSE:MON) may not be a good long-term bet. It may lead you to cast a longing eye at Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM), a company that -- while not perfect -- is much closer to meeting the spirit of consumers' food preferences.

Fool contributor Sara Murphy has no position in any stocks mentioned. Follow her on Twitter at @SMurphSmiles. The Motley Fool recommends Hain Celestial and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dean Foods, Hain Celestial, and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.