These days, it seems like people are either jumping on the organic bandwagon, or alternately, trying to debunk it. The main problem with this is that for the most part, nobody is actually explaining what organic really means.
Is it magical produce that comes from a faraway land that hasn’t been touched by time or the Industrial Revolution?
Is it only grown in hippie communes?
Is it really healthier to eat it or is organic just a finely crafted marketing scheme used by huge corporations to surreptitiously fleece us of our hard-earned cash?
Well in truth, it’s all of these and none of them at the same time. So to try and clear up some of the confusion, we’ll be running a series of blog posts about what organic is and why we should care.
So What Does Organic Mean?
- According to Organic.org and the U.S Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP), organic means “produce and other ingredients that are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.”
(It also includes meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products from animals that do not take antibiotics or growth hormones, or are fed anything that contains any of the non-organic items listed above. But we will address this issue in a separate article because there are several other factors to consider when it comes to choosing your meat and dairy products.)
- If a label says organic, that means that a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.
- The USDA has three categories for labeling organic products:
- 100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients.
- Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients.
- Made with Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30%, including no genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- Companies that make products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but they may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA have no laws regulating the use of the term natural on food labels. Any guidelines for natural foods are established on a company-by-company basis without any third-party regulation or oversight.
There are a great many other factors to consider when discussing organic and natural foods. As we continue with this series of blog posts, we will be touching on things like the health concerns with pesticides and other chemicals, the cost differences with organic foods and how to incorporate them into your budget.
We’ll also take a look at the how all of these figure into an overall healthy lifestyle, along with exercise and real-food based supplementation.
There are a lot of terms flying around these days in the world of healthy living. But with a little explanation, it isn’t difficult to understand and incorporate these things into your everyday life. So stay tuned, there’s more good stuff to come.