What's Organic Anyway?

So we had a wonderful weekend celebrating our son's 2nd birthday!  The food was yummy (and mostly organic and healthy).  I did get some complaints about the organic corn chips... but anything to keep my family from eating dangerous foods right?

OK - I thought it was about time to explain what it means when a product is stamped "USDA Organic" (it is a little circle seal - sometimes black but mostly green).  Buying something that is "All Natural" means nothing... you would have to research the item and the company to know anything about it.

For something to be labeled with the USDA seal it has to be at least 95% organic.

For something to be called "100% organic", it has to be 100% organic (minus salt and water).

For something to be called and labeled "organic" it has to be at least 95% organic.

The use of the seal is voluntary on the producers part. So you have to look at the labeling as well as the seal.

Something can be labeled as "Made with organic ingredients" if it is at least 70% organic (for example there are bags labeled "Made with organic corn" or whatever). 

I think sometimes people misunderstand and think they are getting scammed when they buy something they think is organic - so here are the rules for organically labeled produce according to the USDA

  • Land must have no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop.
  • Soil fertility and crop nutrients should be managed through tilling and cultivation practices, crop rotations, cover crops and supplemented with natural fertilizers (like manure and crop waste), and other allowable synthetic materials.
  • Crop pests, weeds and diseases should be controlled through physical, mechanical and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical or synthetic substance from the approved National List may be used.
  • Preference will be given to the use of organic seeds and other planting stock, but a farmer may use non-organic seeds and planting stock under specified conditions.
  • The use of genetic engineering (GMOs), ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.
I guess my main problem is with the last one... GMOs, radiation and sewage sludge?  Seriously?!  If you are interested in learning more about genetically modified produce... start researching corn and soy - almost all of the corn and soy produced in the US is genetically modified to withstand toxic amounts of pesticide and weed killer.  These goods are then fed to any meat you purchase... and integrated into almost all processed foods (start looking at the labels).  Nothing has to be identified as genetically modified - but organic foods cannot be.

 Take a look at any of the following articles for some more information:


Hope this information helps you to make informed decisions about your purchases... because the labeling on packages in some cases does not help you to make educated choices - just do a search on GMO labeling - it has been in the news recently.

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