A few years back, the organic food market was just limited to the small share of customers. In today’s time, it’s all organic, whether be food, cosmetics, everyday products (dishwashing gel, detergent, toothpaste, clothes and what not!). The concept of Organic is making waves. And a majority of the product and the food companies are rapidly expanding their organic divisions. For produce to be labeled organic, it has to meet certain USDA specifications, which make for more sustainable, environmentally friendly farming practices and cut back on the pesticide exposure.
How do you know the product is organic?
The USDA Organic seal assures consumers of the quality and integrity of organic products. To be certain the organic products you buy are truly pesticide-free, look for the round, brown-and-green “USDA Organic” label on packages, in product advertising or on fruit and vegetable display cases. The cost of getting a product USDA certified leads to Organic products being overpriced or comparatively more expensive than its counterparts. And if you are a strict organic customer then you won’t mind paying that extra penny for that peace of mind and satisfaction.
The USDA has identified for three categories of labeling organic products:
- USDA Certified 100% Organic: these products are allowed to use the USDA Organic Seal and the words “100% Organic” on the front label as the legal organic claim
- Organic: If a product is USDA Certified Organic, 95-99.9% of the ingredients are certified organic. The product can legally use the word “Organic” and the USDA Organic Seal on the front label
- Made with Organic: USDA Certified “Made with Organic” assures that 70-94.9% of the ingredients are certified organic. The word organic can be used in the claim “Made with Organic (insert up to three specified organic ingredients or groups)” but the USDA symbol is not allowed on the front panel
**Anyone who knowingly sells or labels a product “organic” that is not produced and handled in accordance with these regulations can face a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
How to Know If Your Fruits and Vegetables Are Organic?
If you want to know if the product you’re purchasing is truly organic, look at the Price Look Up (PLU) sticker. If the produce is organic, the code will contain five-digits beginning with the number 9. Nonorganic counterparts will have four digits. For example, organically grown apple will be 94023, compared to 4023 for those treated with chemicals and pesticides.
**A five-digit PLU beginning with the number 8 means the item is genetically modified (GMO).
Shopping at the Farmers’ Market: Many small farms may sell organic, pesticide-free produce but cannot afford the expensive certification process. Often this is because they grow a small number of crops annually, so it’s not worth the cost to get certified. Farmer markets’ or farms’, organic produce may cost less because of low shipping costs and no middlemen. For people who are very particular about having the right organic food, you should feel free to ask them directly about their farming methods— Whether say, they used synthetic pesticides and let the answer guide your choice to buy. Even if, the produce at your farmers market isn’t organic, there are many advantages to buying what’s grown in your area- fresh produce that hasn’t been sitting in a truck for days will last longer, and that can save you money by reducing food waste.
*If you see a food that is labeled “transitional,” that means the farmer produced it during the three-year conversion period from conventional to organic.
Shopping organic products: Personal care products and cosmetic products can only be labeled USDA Organic if they are made up of agricultural products. Look for the brands that have had their products officially certified as organic. In order for a product to be certified organic, 95 percent of its plant-based ingredients must be organic and the remaining five percent of non-organic plant ingredients. You’ll see products with labels like “Organic Wear” or “Natural,” when the product is not really organic at all. If in doubt, it’s better to stick with brands you can trust than be mislead by the name of Organic.
*Commonly organic fallacious products include baby care products, yard care products, and cleaning products. To avoid products that are falsely marketed as organic, it’s best to look for the official organic label.
When Considering your health, It’s more important to have a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables whether organic or not organic. Keep in mind that organic is not synonymous with healthy. Regardless of what you buy, make sure you know it’s credibility.
How many of you go for only organic products, and won’t buy products that are not Organic? Also, I would love to know your views on this post.
Stay happy and healthy.