What Does Organic Mean?

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We all wonder, at one time or another, about the organic food issue and whether or not one should pay the extra dinaro for it. You be the judge.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given neither antibiotics nor growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. The organic standards expressly prohibit the handling or use of genetically modified organisms. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” 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. The photo illustrates the USDA organic label which you may want to look for on food packaging.

Reasons why organic, non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food is more costly: The farms are usually smaller and they employ more workers to do weeding, etc. Some food items don’t make it to harvest time due to the mild weed or disease control. Organic feed for cattle and other livestock can cost twice as much as conventional feed. And, a-ha, organic farmers are not given the same Federal subsidies as the conventional farmers.

Also, the term “all natural” does not mean organic.


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