What Does Organic Food Really Mean ?

 

Many people ask what does organic really mean?

Organic means that fruits, nuts, seeds or other ingredients are grown without the use of any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. For meat, poultry, or eggs to be considered organic, the animals must not have been fed antibiotics or growth hormones.

The 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 no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. 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, too.

People sometimes mistakenly think that organic dried fruits or nuts cannot be considered organic if they contain anything other than just the dried fruit or nut. However, this assumption is false. Dried fruit or nuts that are processed in an organic certified facility using other organic ingredients are still considered organic. For example, our organic strawberries contain in addition to the organically grown and certified strawberries, organic cane sugar and organic canola oil. Since all of these added items are grown organically, the strawberries are still considered organic.

Occasionally people confuse a product being called organic as the same as being all natural. All natural products may not contain any additives or preservatives, but it does not mean that they are organic. They can be all natural, but contain products that are not grown or produced organically.

There is often a question as to why organic food tends to be more expensive than non-organic food? Organic foods are processed in a different and more regulated way than non-organic foods. This causes the production cost to be a little higher. Also, organic farmers do not receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers. Therefore, the higher cost of organic products represents a more true cost of growing. Organically grown products are much more labor intensive since there are no chemicals used to aid in growing and prevent insects from ruining crops. The organic methods of growing require much more management than conventional farming. Most organic products are grown in much smaller areas than conventional products. This smaller amount of land produces less overall organic products in comparison to standard products. Thus, the smaller supply of organic products also contributes to the higher price.

Becoming certified organic is not an easy task. Our facility had to pass many different types of inspections. Strict and accurate monitoring of all of the organic products is essential in maintaining our certification. We must keep current records of all received and shipped organic merchandise. Current records of the organic farmers must be kept as well.

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