If you've noticed that the organic food section of your local supermarket is getting larger with every visit - this news should come as no surprise to you:  Sales of organic food products in the U.S. outpaced those of similar non-organic food items last year.

The organic industry grew by 9.5 percent overall in 2011 to reach $31.5 billion in sales, according to findings from an Organic Trade Association survey. Of this, the organic food and beverage sector was valued at $29.22 billion, while the organic nonfood sector reached $2.2 billion.

Likewise, the total market share of organic foods has followed suit.

The organic food sector grew by $2.5 billion during 2011, with the fruit and vegetable category contributing close to 50 percent of those new dollars. The fastest-growing sector was the meat, fish and poultry category, posting 13 percent growth over 2010 sales, but still remaining the smallest of the eight organic food categories.

Organic food sales now represent 4.2 percent of all U.S. food sales, up from 4 percent in 2010.

Analysts expect the upswing to continue, as America's food tastes continue to evolve.

Consumers are increasingly engaged and discerning when they shop, making decisions based on their values and awareness about health and environmental concerns," said Christine Bushway, OTA's executive director and CEO. "For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many choices for where to shop and a variety of products from which to choose."