Blueberry
why should I buy organic food?

For You and Your Family! Organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically engineered ingredients.

For the Planet! Organic Farming helps keep air, water, and soil clean by not using synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

It's Easy! There are many organic options to choose from.

Bananas
what is organic?

Organic refers to the way agricultural products and foods are grown and processed. Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. To maintain the integrity of the final product, organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation.

The "organic" food label identifies food grown with practices that:

  • Do rely on natural biological systems for pest and weed control thus avoiding use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and soil fumigants.
  • Do improve the quality and fertility of the soil
  • Do protect water quality
  • Do reduce soil erosion
  • Do reduce the impact of agriculture on our environment
  • Do produce high quality, great tasting food
  • Don't use genetic engineering
  • Don't use sewage sludge as fertilizer
Carrot
do terms "natural" and "organic" mean the same thing?

No. According to the USDA, the terms "natural" and "organic" are not interchangeable. Only food labeled "organic" meets USDA's national organic standards that requires farmers work in harmony with their ecosystem (or land). While other claims, such as "natural," "free-range," and "hormone-free," can still appear on food labels these terms should not be confused with "organic."

Rasberry
is organic food better for consumers and the environment?

By eating organic foods, you limit your exposure to synthetic insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, because organic farming avoids using these chemicals. Additionally by eating organic foods, you limit your intake of growth hormones and antibiotics, because organic meat and dairy farmers are prohibited from using hormones and antibiotics in organic livestock and dairy production. Finally by eating organic foods, you limit your intake of genetically modified foods because organic farmers cannot raise genetically modified crops or livestock or use production aids that are genetically modified.

Organic farming methods help provide a safer, more healthy environment by: 1) not polluting our groundwater, rivers, lakes, and oceans with synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers; 2) reducing soil erosion; 3) improving soil quality; 4) increasing the diversity of wildlife on and near farms; and 5) not exposing farm workers to synthetic pesticides.

when I go to the supermarket, how can I tell organically produced food from conventionally produced food?

Look for the USDA Organic Seal or products labeled as "made with organic"

On October 21, 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) put into effect the national organic standards ensuring consistency for all organic products marketed in the U.S. Along with the new standards, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed strict labeling rules to help consumers know the exact organic content of the food they buy. The "USDA Organic" seal helps you find products that contain atleast 95 percent certified organic ingredients.

You'll find four labeling categories when looking for organic products in stores and markets:
• 100 percent Organic: All of the product's content is certified organic. These products may display the USDA Organic seal on the label.
• Organic: At least 95 percent of the product's content is certified organic. These products may also display the USDA Organic seal on the label. These products contain some minor ingredients approved for use in organic foods that are not certified organic, such as minerals and vitamins.
• Made with Organic Ingredients: At least 70 percent of the product's content is certified organic. Up to three ingredients can be listed on the label with the phrase "made with organic."
• Products containing less than 70 percent organic content may only identify the organic ingredients in the ingredient listing on the label.

Peach
will I find the USDA Organic seal on all organic products?

No. The use of the USDA Organic seal is voluntary. And the USDA Organic seal can only be used on products with at least 95 percent certified organic ingredients.

on what food products can the USDA Organic seal be displayed?

The USDA Organic seal may appear on organic food products that contain at least 95 percent certified organic ingredients.

what are some key provisions of the national organic regulations?

The national organic regulations:
• Prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms in organic food production
• Reflect the National Organic Standards Board recommendations on the allowable materials for use by organic farmers, organic livestock producers, and organic processors
• Require organic farmers to demonstrate soil quality improvement
• Prohibit antibiotics and growth hormones in organic meat and poultry
• Require 100% organic feed for organic livestock

how can I be confident the products I'm buying are really organic?

Certified organic farmers and processors are inspected annually by an independent, USDA accredited certification agent. During the annual inspection, the certification agent verifies compliance with the national organic regulations and reviews the food safety practices of organic growers and processors. This helps assure that organic producers are in compliance with all local, state, and federal health standards and with the more stringent requirements included in the USDA's national organic regulations.

submit_question
seal