The World's Healthiest Foods

Can you be certain that your organically grown foods are truly organic?

If you had any concerns about what you are getting when you buy organically grown foods, the new USDA regulations which went into effect as of October 2002 have put those worries to rest. Have you have noticed that organically grown fruits and vegetables are being segregated from conventionally grown foods in your local market? This is because there is a $10,000 fine if food represented as organic is contaminated with non-organic compounds. Separate tubs are used to trim and clean the produce and if organic foods are displayed in an area that previously displayed non-organic produce, the mats on which they are placed must be replaced and the area thoroughly cleaned with a mild bleach solution. If these foods accidentally become contaminated during their handling, they are sold as conventional produce.

One Certification System

These are just a few positive outcomes of the new rules governing the sale and production of organic foods. The USDA laid down stringent requirements of not only how organic foods are produced but how they are displayed in your local market to prevent contamination from non-organic foods. The new national standards replace what was previously a mishmash of certification systems run by individual states and private groups that often left consumers confused and uncertain as to what they were getting under the old system.

Certified Organic Production and Labeling

The USDA seal ensures consumers that they are actually purchasing a product that is organic rather than a creatively worded package that advertises itself as organic. Certified organic production and handling prohibit the use of most conventional pesticides, petroleum or sewage-sludge based fertilizers, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. Organic meats, chicken and turkey come from animals that are fed organic feed, have access to the out of doors and are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

Before a product can be labeled "organic", an inspector visits the farm where the food is produced to make sure the farm meets USDA standards. Under the new rules, foods will be labeled as belonging to one of four categories:

  1. Food that is 100% organic may carry the new "USDA organic" label and say 100% organic.
  2. Food that is at least 95% organic may carry the new seal.
  3. Food that is at least 70% organic will list the organic ingredients on the front of the package
  4. If a product is less than 70% organic, the organic ingredients may be listed on the side of the package but cannot say "organic" on the front.

With the new regulations consumers can purchase their food with the confidence that it is truly organic. Organically grown foods not only enhance the health of our families but the way in which they are grown helps to preserve the plant on which we live. As for the taste, it speaks for itself!

This page was updated on: 2004-11-18 21:49:13
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation