The O word. Nope, not the one you’re thinking about, the other one; organic. What exactly does organic mean? That seems to be the question of the hour nowadays with the world of health and wellness going head-to-head with the food and Franken-food industry. Yep, frankenfood, it’s a word – look it up.
So let’s delve into what defines organic and what it means to eat organic, or better yet, why that matters! Definitions are not so easy because there are actually different categories of what can be labeled and deemed organic. In comes the ultimate curveball of confusion; food companies don’t just do this with ‘organic’ but with other green terms as well.
The deal is, organic foods are grown and produced without using the conventional not-so-pretty pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage deposits (ew, poop), irradiation OR genetic engineering/modification (GMOs). Now, before any products may be labeled with the golden ticket that is Organic, a third party organic surveyor and certifier must inspect the farm from which the produce came annually to make sure that all United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standards are met and to par. Alas, that comes with a price. A price, which is unfortunately passed down to you and I, as the consumer. Hence, the reason organic foods cost more.
What about the local produce stand, farmers markets or small farms that do grow organically? They very well may be all natural and organic, but they cannot afford the certification required for said sticker. Sad, but true. This is where the theory of supply and demand can help our farmer friends.
Ready for the green label name game?
100% Organic: This product or produce was found by a third party to contain only organic ingredients. (These claims typically sport the USDA Organic seal as well.)
Organic: This is 95% organic and that other 5% is extra that may only be found on a list of USDA-approved ingredients. (The USDA seal covers this too.)
Made with Organic Ingredients: This means the product must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Said ingredients will be sporting an asterisk on the ingredients list.
Natural: Basically, it came from the Earth, somewhere. It doesn’t mean much when sported on fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes, because we can only hope those are ‘natural’. This word can basically be plastered on anything to make it sound more healthy or environmental sound and it doesn’t mean much because it is completely unregulated.
Organic in the Product or Company name: Also, totally unregulated and more than likely shallow promises. Double check the ingredient list and look over the labels to be sure.