“IS ORGANIC FOOD BETTER FOR ME AND MY FAMILY? ”
There is no conclusive evidence at this time to suggest that organically produced foods are more nutritious. However, well-balanced soils grow strong healthy plants which many believe taste better and contain more nutrients. Also, unlike many conventional foods that are bred for appearance, many organic farmers use heirloom varieties of plants that often have been bred for superior flavor. In addition, ecological farming practices eliminate the use of toxic and persistent chemicals that can contaminate our water supplies.
WHY DO ORGANIC PRODUCTS COST MORE?
Organic products do tend to cost more than their conventional counterparts. To some extent, this is changing as production capacity and demand for organic products increase, improving production efficiencies and lowering prices at the checkout. In addition, many involved in organic are striving for a sustainable agricultural system – one which is ecologically sound as well as economically viable. Paying farmers a fair price for their products is an important tenet for many involved in organic agriculture. It may help to think of the extra pennies spent on organic products as a daily contribution to your health and the health of the planet, one well worth making if one is able.
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.
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.
DO THE 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. 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.”
SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF EATING ORGANIC FOOD?
Certified organic farmers and processors follow strict food safety guidelines to assure safe and hygienic food production. All food producers, including organic farmers and processors, must comply with local, state and federal health standards. In addition to these health and safety standards, organic farmers and processors are also required to comply with the stringent requirements included in USDA’s national organic regulations.
These more stringent food standards include restrictions on application of raw manure to soil; organic audit trail requirement; organic farm plan requirement; organic handling plan requirement; prohibition of synthetic pesticide use; prohibition of GMO use; prohibition of food irradiation; and prohibition of chemical food processing methods.
WHAT DOES THE ORGANIC INDUSTRY DO TO ENSURE SAFE AND WHOLESOME FOOD PRODUCTION?
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.
National Organic Program of the USDA
Organic Trade Association (OTA)
P.O. Box 547
Greenfield, MA 01302