What does “Organic” mean?

When purchasing organic produce, organic clothing, organic mattresses & bedding, have you ever wanted to know what requirements were met for that item to be labeld ‘organic’?  Often, ‘organic’ & ‘natural’ are tossed around as if they meant the same thing.  Natural simply means “existing in or formed by nature”, as opposed to artificial.  Organic, however is governed by strict requirements and only applies to certain production methods.

In the US, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) sets forth stringent standards that must be met before a product can be considered organic.  The National Organic Program (NOP) regulations ensure that organically labeled products meet consistent national standards.  A third party, approved by the USDA, certifies farms that meet these NOP regulations.

Organic farming begins with soil that has had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop.  Seeds used in organic farming must be natural, untreated, non GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) seeds.  No toxic fertilizers are needed because organic farming employs tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials, along with allowed synthetic materials.

Time honored farming techniques keeps soil healthy and fertile and maintain biologically diverse ecosystems.  As a result, a healthy balance is maintained between pests & their natural predators, eliminating the need for pesticides.  Beneficial insects are introduced to further minimize pest populations.

Organic farming results in improved water rention and thereby decrease the amount of water required to grow crops.  Toxic herbicides & pesticides are also avoided, as crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls.  The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.

Any product that contains 95% to 100% organic ingredients, with remaining ingredients allowed for use in organic products may carry the “Organic” label.  Products containing 70% to 95% organic ingredients may not bear an “Organic” seal, but can list their organic ingredients on the ingredients label.

Organic means:
– No genetically modified organism (GMO)
– No toxic fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides
– No antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering
– No ionizing radiation, sewage sludge
– No cloned animals or animal products
– No chlorine bleach
– No artificial ingredients or preservatives

We can have a positive impact on our environment by demanding organic alternatives to the things that fill our lives.  Organic farming ensures a healthier world for us, our children and all other living creatures that share this planet with us.  Thank you for supporting organic farming!

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