Choosing to buy organic products can reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals in your home.
Whether your goal is to improve your health or to support sustainable agriculture, buying organic
may be the right choice for you.
However, it’s confusing when you encounter different labels on merchandise.
A product that includes a USDA certified organic seal is different from a marketing claim that
simply proclaims a substance is “natural.”
If you’re interested in buying more organic products, you need to understand what “certified
organic” really means.
Developing a Standard
Labeling for organic ingredients is a relatively new practice.
It was developed to standardize the meaning of the word “organic” as it is applied to consumer
products and farming practices.
In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Organic Foods and Production Act establishing standards
for organic foods.
In 2002, the USDA National Organic Program took shape.
This program set the rules for ingredients that can be labeled USDA certified organic.
Qualifying as an Organic Product
To carry a USDA organic label, products must come from land that has been free from certain
pesticides and fertilizers for three years.
During this time, farmers must manage their crops using natural, biological techniques without
the aid of prohibited chemicals.
There’s more than one type of USDA organic label, and each type has its own meaning.
Here are the labels you should look for when you’re shopping.
·100 percent organic: Products that carry this label must contain only organic ingredients.
·Organic: Items with this claim must be made from a minimum of 95 percent organic contents.
The remaining ingredients can include non-organic substances.
·Made with organic ingredients: This label indicates that at least 70 percent of the item’s
ingredients are organic.
Companies that knowingly misuse these labels can be fined.
Limitations of the Label
While labels are helpful when you buy organic, they won’t tell you the whole story.
If you’re interested in supporting businesses that use sustainable methods, understanding
the meaning of organic labels is just the start.
Larger agricultural operations, even while complying with the standards for organic farming,
may require the heavy use of machinery that runs on gas and produces carbon emissions.
In contrast, there are small, organic farms that choose not to seek certification because of
the expense involved.
There are also farmers who are unable to meet the standards of certification, but who still
work in a largely sustainable way.
As a consumer, it’s important to understand the meaning of “certified organic,” especially
as the demand for green products continues to bring more environmentally friendly
merchandise to market.
Do you understand the meaning of “certified organic”?
Do you know how to identify “certified organic” products when you are shopping?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.