What Does “Organic” Mean,
and Why Should We
Let’s start with understanding the labels we see on products. Here are some common labels and what they really mean:
– 100% organic ingredients
– All ingredients were grown or raised to the USDA’s standards
– Plants cannot be grown with synthetic pesticides
– Must be certified
– At least 95% organic ingredients
– Up to 5% may be from a small list of USDA approved non-organic additives
– Required to be certified by an agency, that of which is stated on the label
Made With Organic Ingredients:
– Required to contain at least 70% organic ingredients
– The remainder of the ingredients can be non-organic
– May state a maximum of 3 organic food groups on the label
– Also must be certified
Less than 70% Organic Ingredients:
– All products that contain less than 70% organic ingredients
– Free of restrictions on non-organic ingredients
– “Organic” can only be listed in the ingredients section
– Does not require certification
Organic Standards and Certification
A group called the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) has been a leader in the organic movement since 1973. The CCOF helped create the current USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The NOP makes sure that all foods labeled as “Certified Organic” are grown and inspected to strict regulations.
Benefits of Organic Certification
The USDA organic and/or CCOF label on a product guarantees that all the proper steps have been taken to make sure it is 100% organic. This means that the product has been grown, produced, inspected, and certified to abide by federal organic regulations. it also reassures consumers that someone is working behind the scenes to make sure their food is safe and healthy.
Be Cautious of Other Labeling
The labels on products can get to be confusing, and at times, a bit misleading. This is why it is crucial for consumers to choose 100% certified organic products. There are a few words on labels to steer clear of when it comes to looking for organics. Learn about these differences to make sure you’re not just guessing during your shopping trips.
“Natural,” “Local,” and “Sustainable”
Federal standards do not apply for “natural,” “local,” or “sustainable” claims. Products with these labels still may include toxic pesticides, GMO’s, or synthetic substances.
“No Spray” and “Pesticide Free”
Claims like “Pesticide Free” might mean that the edible part of the crop hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, but they could have been used to grow the food.
Reasons to Choose Organic
Protect Your Family’s Health
The choices you make in regards to foods can have a major impact on your health, and the health of your children. Young ones are 164 times more sensitive to more than 8 widely used pesticides that can cause cancer. The exposure to these hazardous chemicals has been linked to allergies, asthma, and autism in children. Organic food does not contain these harmful chemicals.
Choose Healthy, Tasty Food
Newcastle University has conducted studies that suggest switching to a diet of organic foods provides up to 40% more antioxidants. Studies have also shown that these organic foods contain higher amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. All of which are essential to healthy functioning bodies.
Keep Chemicals Off Your Plate
In 2010, President Obama’s cancer panel had revealed their recommendations to the public with some things to decrease the risk of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. They recommend that consumers choose to eat foods that are not grown with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, or growth hormones. Choosing organic keeps chemicals, and cancer, off of your dinner plates!
Preserve the environment
Pest management methods in organic farming aim to protect wildlife, promote biodiversity, and work on improving and maintaining ecosystems. Organic farms support bigger populations of bees and many other pollinators. Soil fertility is also another big objective for organic farming. Preserving the soil now and for the future guarantees a sustainable food supply. These methods also conserve water and protect fish from chemical runoff.
Lower our Dependence on Costly Fossil fuels
Organic farming uses composted manure, cover crops, and natural materials to increase soil fertility. It also strays away from the use of petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers that are costly. Organic foods like corn use 1/3 less fossil fuel energy to produce. Overseas, oil is used in producing conventional fertilizers. By increasing the share of organics to 10% of the national food supply would reduce the annual oil consumption by 2.9 billion barrels. When you buy organic, you are supporting the nation’s food security.
Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change
When soil is treated organically, it absorbs more carbon. This reduces the amount of carbon that is released into the air and slows the effects of global warming. Rodale Institute has research that shows by organically farming, 7,000 lbs of carbon dioxide will be removed from the air and absorbed by just one acre of land. Just think of the impact that more acres of organic farmland could have on the health of the planet if the consumers chose organic foods over conventional ones.
Remove Hormones From the Food Supply Chain
Organic meat, poultry, and eggs come from animals that aren’t raised using hormones or antibiotics. There is strong evidence to support the increasing amounts of antibiotics in our diets as the years progress. There have been studies conducted to prove that hormone additives in animals have been linked to many development complications for children young in age. Organic practices do not support the use of additives altogether, which allows us to avoid the consequences for fighting illness.
Stop the Spread of GMO’s
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can’t be used in organic productions. Growing research shows that GMOs are toxic, allergenic, and far less nutritious than their organic counterparts. These harmful organisms can also disrupt the ecosystem, damage wild plant and animal populations, and harm biodiversity. Consumers can stop this growing, uncontrolled biological situation by choosing to buy organic foods. Who would want their food to just be a science experiment? Eat organic to set yourself up for a life full of healthy choices.
Build the National Economy
Profits resulting in organic farming are higher than the U.S. average for all farms. Data from the USDA reveals that 78% of all organic farms have plans to keep or increase production in the next several years. At a time where farmland is decreasing and the local farms are struggling, the organic sector continues to help revitalize the U.S. economy and national food system. Countless jobs are being created as well as preserving farming lands.
Support a More Fair Food System
Even though organic foods appear to be more expensive than conventional ones, the conventional prices do not include all of the hidden costs that come along with. It is estimated that $74 billion is given every year in federal subsidies to conventional crop production, environmental cleanup, and testing of harmful pesticides. In the store, the conventional products may seem cheaper because they don’t include all off the hidden costs unknowingly covered by the taxpayer. On the other hand, the prices of organic foods cover everything.