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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So just what does 'Organic' mean, anyway?

I've just returned from a trip away from home with my family from the Washington D.C. area (more on that later). It was a lovely weekend up in the mountains at our family cabin, devoid of T.V. (there is one, but we don't use it), Internet access, and all of the modern conveniences that keep us occupied here at home.

While we were there, I confiscated a copy of The Washington Post from my Uncle, after seeing the headline, "Purity of Federal 'Organic' Label Is Questioned." You can read the full article here. As we consumers push for healthier selections at our local groceries, including organic whole foods and healthier organic packaged foods, it's important to be aware of what the moniker 'Organic' actually means.

While you can (and should) read the article I linked, here are a few of the key terms I learned. Check your labels to see where your favorite organic products fall on this list:

  • 100% Organic - No mystery here. A product with this label should contain no chemicals, additives, synthetics, pesticides, or genetically engineered substances.
  • USDA Organic - These products must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. The remaining 5% can include additives or synthetics if they are on a list approved by the FDA.
  • Made with Organic - These products must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, and must identify the organic and non-organic ingredients.
Anything with less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the word "organic" on the packaging except in the ingredient list (to properly identify which ingredients are organic).

Since we're often paying more for organic products, I think it's important to understand which are truly 100% organic, and which are just mostly organic. Hope you find this helpful - I did!

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