When you are trying to eat healthier, reduce your carbon footprint, and live a greener life, going organic may seem like the right thing to do. When you actually get into the market or store, all of the different labels might seem confusing at first. Knowing what going organic really means can help you to make sound purchasing decisions for your body and the Earth.
How Organic Foods and Products Are Certified
Inspectors from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) visit all farms and inspect everything before the products can have an organic label. Fruits, vegetables, meats, and even cotton may be examined by the agricultural inspectors. Farms must be re-certified every five years.
What Organic Certification Requires
In order to be labeled organic, foods and plant products must not have had any synthetic chemicals used in their growing. This includes herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Organic products are not exposed to ionizing radiation and are not bioengineered. If organic ingredients are processed, such as when organic wheat is processed into flour, the processing company must also maintain an organic certification by the USDA in order for the product to have the organic label on its packaging.
Organic Food Labels
The USDA requires that any food with an “organic” label on it have 100% organic ingredients. When you buy a baking mix or a bag of apples that says “organic”, you can trust that it was grown and made with only organic ingredients. Items with only other labels, such as “made with organic ingredients” might have a few organic things in them. If something has a label that says “natural”, it might not have any organic ingredients in it at all. If you want to go organic, your best bet is to choose products labeled as certified organic.
Growing Your Own
If you cannot find organic foods or they are too pricey for your budget, consider growing your own. You can make a container garden or dig a garden in your backyard. You will need to make sure the seeds you use are certified organic. An organic fertilizer or compost pile will also be important for ensuring that your plants grow healthy and strong with the correct nutrients. Places like Nature Safe offer organic fertilizers and compost and can help you get the right mix of nutrients in your soil.
Going organic is more than just choosing which carrots or apples to buy. It extends to your clothing, linens, and many of the other products that you use. Learning about what going organic means allows you be a good steward of your resources and the world’s natural resources.