O is for ORGANIC
I have had the discussion many times with people about the “O” word…ORGANIC that is. A lot of people don’t know truly what organic is or means. Some people think it is just a marketing ploy, useless hype or the food is not safe to eat (yes I have heard these excuses before). The funny thing is, ALL food used to be ORGANIC before we started mass producing food early last century. It is unfortunate that adding pesticides, hormones, chemicals and other nasty things to our food has become a mainstream acceptance. Fortunately for us who want organic, it is not too difficult to find. Most major chains of grocery stores carry organic produce, dairy products, meat, eggs and organic dry goods. Most FARMERS MARKETS have certified farms that provide organic items. In the recent years, mainstream people have switched to buying organic because of all the information that we now have on pesticides, hormones and chemicals that have been added to our food. We even have government regulations to ensure that when it says organic, it actually is organic. In general, any business that is directly involved with the production of food (including seed suppliers, food processors, farmers, restaurants and retailers) can be certified. Although requirements vary from country to country, the same basics apply to the criteria to be organic certified.
What defines organic and is required to be certified is the following:
- Avoidance of all synthetic chemicals not on the “National List of Allowing and Prohibited Substances” includes fertilizer, pesticide, antibiotics, food additives, genetically modified organisms (GMO), irradiation and the use of biosolids.
[BIOSOLIDS: pl.n. Solid or semisolid material obtained from treated waste water, often used as fertilizer]
- The actual farmland has been free from the prohibited synthetic chemicals and substances often more than three years.
- The farmer must keep detailed written records of production and sales
- Must maintain strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products
- To undergo periodic inspections
- Certified Organic producers are subject to the same agriculture, safety and other government regulations that apply to non-organic producers
Knowing that your food products are labeled organic you can be sure that they are organic. Regulations have been put in place to prevent fraud and assure quality, because you cannot tell just by looking at the product.
Make sure you look for “ORGANIC” or “CERTIFIED ORGANIC” on the labels or advertising. Here is what the labels mean:
- “100% organic or Certified Organic” — This means the food has no synthetic ingredients and can use the organic seal.
- “Organic” — This means the food has a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. It can also use the organic seal.
- “Made with organic ingredients” — This means the food must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. These foods cannot use the seal.
- Meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy labeled “organic” must come from animals that have never received antibiotics or growth hormones and are fed organic feed.
- Standards for organic seafood and cosmetics have not been set.
As you can see that just by paying attention to the label on packages and produce, even the sign for the farmer at the farmers market; you can be assured that you are getting Organic items. This is the first step to eliminating harmful chemical and unwanted substances from the food you and your family are eating.