09 September 2008

Is It Really Organic?

Here is what I've learned about "organic."

My understanding is that there is no official national standard to qualify something as "organic." I think basically anyone can call their product "organic" and it seems fairly obvious that many producers do exactly that as a marketing tactic.

The USDA doesn't even have the resources to carry out it's current mission, let alone monitor national and international foods for organic qualification. To do that it would need more money, which means more taxes, which will kill Jesus. But they did the next best thing, which is to accredit other organizations which do the job of certifying whether producers meet "organic" standards.

So there are certified and uncertified organic foods, and this is what to look for. Certified organic products will say "certified by XXXX" on the product whereas uncertified products will not, although they may be described as "organic" on the label.

It's not a perfect system. There are many, many certifiers and their standards may differ. Furthermore, there are certifiers who have not been accredited by the USDA but still certify products unofficially.

The database of accredited certifiers is here, if you want to go the whole nine yards and keep the list on your PDA for ready access while shopping.

Other than that just do the next best thing and look for "certified by XXXX" on the label.


Julie said...

Or buy from a local farmer (like at a Farmer's market) and ask if they use any chemicals in growing their plants. A lot of them don't, or will explain why they use the ones they do use. A lot of them don't use the genetically modified seeds and crap, either.

Farmer's market > grocery store organic.

Anonymous said...

Kinda like "part of this complete breakfast."

As long as you start with a complete breakfast, anything additional will have to be a part of it.