Monday, September 29, 2008

Understanding Organic Food Labeling

While there is no research proving that organic foods are a more nutritious choice, the number of customers requesting organically grown foods in grocery stores and local markets has increased dramatically in the past few years. All 50 states have USDA-certified organic farmland, totaling more than 4 million acres of range, pasture and cropland. Walmart jumped into organic food marketing this year, taking organic foods from the domain of earth friendly foodies and farmers to mainstream America. Early organically marketed foods were fresh fruits and vegetables, Today, many packaged foods are also carrying organic labels which may be confusing to consumers. There are four categories of product composition of organic claims. These standards have been established and are regulated by USDA. If a product is sold, labeled or represented as “100 percent organic”, it must contain 100% organically produced ingredients. Products sold, labeled or represented as “organic” must contain not less than 95% organically produced raw or processed agricultural products. Any remaining product ingredients must be organically produced, unless not commercially available in organic form, or must be nonagricultural substances or non-organically produced agricultural products produced consistent with the National List. Products sold, labeled or represented as “made with organic ingredients” must contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients. If a product has less than 70% organically produced ingredients by weight or fluid volume, it may only identify the organic content of the product by identifying each organically produced ingredient and the percentage of the ingredient. There are no requirements for organic food to be grown locally. There is no definition for what local means. Farmers growing organically do not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. In some studies, pesticide levels in organic produce have been shown to be lower than conventionally grown. However, pesticides residues in conventionally grown foods were well below federal standards and thus are considered safe based on scientific studies. As organic foods become more common in food markets and prices closer to conventionally grown products, more consumers will choose organic foods. Expiration dates may need to be observed more closely as organic foods will not contain the preservatives in conventional foods. Eating organic is an alternative option that will continue to expand and as we look to more sustainable lifestyles, organic foods may be a choice you decide to adopt.

1 comment:

edietsreviews said...

But organic food will still continue to be very expensive compared to intensively produced GM food - it's not got such a bad rep as some people might think :) And no I don't work for a GM food company.