New To Organics? Understanding The Fundamentals Of Organic Food Production And Labeling

The organic food market is growing significantly every year, particularly with rising concerns about pesticide exposure. If you've been hearing the discussion about buying organic groceries but don't really understand the difference, you may not know exactly what to look for. Here's a look at some of the basics of organic food regulations to help you understand what sets these organic products apart from their conventionally-grown counterparts.

Can Anybody Sell Organic Foods?

Before any company can handle or sell foods labeled as organic, the company must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture. The process to obtain that certification isn't easy. Growers must provide detailed information about the land they are growing on, including its growth history. In addition, growers and processors must provide specifics about the types of products that will be grown or handled. Finally, they have to include a comprehensive description of the production practices for evaluation.

The Department of Agriculture assigns an agent to evaluate these applications and inspect fields and production facilities. Everything is validated to ensure that products meet organic standards. This means that anything grown must be produced without the use of pesticides or any synthetic additives to the soil. All products used in the growing process must be organic.

What Happens Once A Company Is Certified?

The oversight doesn't end when the company obtains certification. Any organic food producer is required to comply with the regulations put in place by the Department of Agriculture at all times. This means that these growers cannot ever introduce prohibited products in their growing process without sacrificing their organic certification.

What Do Those Organic Labels Mean?

In addition to the regulations in place for organic growing and production, the regulations surrounding the use of term "organic" can help you ensure that you know what you're getting at all times.

Products cannot be specifically labeled as 100-percent organic unless every single ingredient and component is completely organic. A basic organic seal indicates a product with no more than five percent of its ingredients that aren't organic. For products that are three-quarters organic or more, you'll see a label that reads "Contains Organic Ingredients" instead.

Now you can understand the regulations surrounding organic food production and the labeling requirements for those foods. These labeling requirements will help you understand what you're looking at when you're in the grocery store. If you're looking to make the switch to organic foods in your diet, you'll be able to more easily find the products that you're looking for now that you understand these basics.