What does “Organic” really mean?

I had a follower at  WWW.GOINGGREENWITHNOAH.COM recently say that they were hesitant to eat Organic food (over conventional), because of the “truth” behind calling themselves Organic and asked me to assist.

Well, I’m here to help set the record straight.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) strictly regulates regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced. It is actually quite difficult and tedious to bear the name “organic.”

Let’s go through a couple of things:

What is ORGANIC?

Organic production is a system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 (PDF) and regulations in Title 7, Part 205 of the Code of Federal Regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. The National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards.

OK – So what does that mean?

It means that the USDA STRICTLY oversees organic farming and scrutinizes its practices constantly. It is actually quite difficult for farmers to achieve the ability to use the USDA Organic label!

Let’s talk about Labeling…..

Organic farming cannot use pesticides. In fact, they are limited to SEVEN non-toxic, all-natural pesticides, compared to the 200 chemicals that conventional farmers are allowed to use!

Products labeled as “100 percent organic” must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and processing aids.

Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List including specific non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form. In these cases, the USDA “Organic” Seal may be displayed on the packaging.

Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. For example, soup made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients and only organic vegetables may be labeled either “soup made with organic peas, potatoes, and carrots,” or “soup made with organic vegetables.” Processed products labeled “made with organic ingredients” cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. The percentage of organic content and the certifying agent seal or mark may be used on the principal display panel. However, the USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package.

“Until a few years ago, individuals who were concerned about the state of the environment were considered alarmist. The only people really involved in any kinds of campaigns were environmentalists…..The possibility that we might actually be exhausting its resources was inconceivable then. Now you can’t open a newspaper without being made aware of the impact of our lives on the planet….the extinction of species, melting glaciers, freak weather events and on and on.

Indeed, if everyone lived the life of the average person in the US, we would need six planets of identical natural resources in order to sustain us!” (A Slice of Organic Life)

Quite scary, huh?

With cancers (both adult and juvenile), diabetes, ADHD, etc. inundating today’s society, don’t you think that we should consider that the chemicals used to treat the foods we ingest could be the culprit?

I hope that helped clear up the Organic issue. Note that this is only true for foods – not for makeups, body products, etc. that do not need to hold up to the same strict guidelines.

Please note that I used the references below for my research.

References:

Organic Earth Day.org

A Slice of Organic Life, Goldsmith & Waters, 2007

USDA, National Organic Program

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