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All About Organics

When it comes to food, organic is a delicious way to eat well and support the environment. The key principle behind organic food is healthy soil. By acting as responsible stewards of their land, organic farmers create a cycle of healthy soil, growing healthy food for healthier people.

And it’s clear from the tremendous growth of organic food—$1 billion in sales in 1990 to $29 billion in sales in 2012—that more and more people appreciate its value.

Organic foods meet all government safety standards that other foods must meet, plus the specific requirements outlined for organic certification. While foods that are grown organically may sometimes cost more, they also offer the kind of value you won’t find in conventionally grown foods.

  • They’re healthier.
    Organic foods are grown without the use of  GMO seeds, synthetic pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers.
  • They’re environmentally sound.
    Many conventional farming practices cost taxpayers billions of dollars in environmental damage and federal subsidies, while organic growers protect soil sustainability and water quality and contribute to biodiversity.
  • They’re better for farmers.
    Organic farming protects the health and welfare of farm workers by limiting exposure to harmful synthetic pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers. And organic farming, particularly when sustainable practices are used, better preserves and fortifies the land for farmers of future generations.
  • They’re more humane.
    Animals on organic farms are typically treated more humanely.

So how do you tell if the products you’re buying are organic? If a food is labeled as “made with organic ingredients,” it contains at least 70 percent organic content, while the label “organic” means that 95% or more of the ingredients are organic.

In general, looking for the “USDA Organic” label is the best way to guarantee that the product has been grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), irradiation, antibiotics, or growth hormones. Organic growers avoid contamination during food processing, keep detailed records of their operations, and are likely to use sustainable growing methods.

For more information on food terminology, head over to our Food Glossary.

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