As time goes on, more and more foods are being labeled “Organic” and that is something which most people don’t really understand. While you would assume that it means that all foods are free from pesticides and chemical fertilizers, is this really the case? What you may have also noticed is that foods, such as produce, sitting side-by-side with other like items, are priced higher than those not labeled organic. Is it really more expensive to produce organic foods? These are just some of the questions the general public asks before reaching for that healthier choice, and why it is important that they understand these three things before buying organic foods, before making their purchases.
1. Government Guidelines: One thing you should always be aware of is that the federal government takes labeling very seriously. It is literally a crime to knowingly mislabel a product and they take food and drugs more seriously than other products most of the time. In 1990, the government instituted the Organic Foods Production Act, OFPA, which laid out the guidelines to be followed when asserting that any foodstuff was organic. This Act allowed for the organization of the USDA National Organic Program, NOP, and also instituted the National Organic Standards Board that answers directly to the Secretary of Agriculture. If you have any doubt as to just how serious the federal government is in terms of labeling and making false claims, check out the National Agricultural Library to see just how detailed these guidelines are.
2. Organic and Non-GMO Food Production: In more recent years, there has been an intense scrutiny of any products containing Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs. Foods such as Costco’s organic chicken sausage which is clearly labeled a certified Non-GMO product must meet certain standards as well. The debate is still on as to what the long-term effects of GMOs are on humans and animals as well as on the crops being modified, but a growing portion of the population is expressing concern. The abovementioned Italian sausage carries a label stating it has been verified as being free from these organisms and that includes the grains used to feed the chickens used in the production of the sausages.
3. Sustainability Is a Key Factor: One final thing many people aren’t aware of is that a huge portion of organic food producers, including but not limited to farmers, are using practices found to be environmentally friendly. This means that they not only avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but they are also concerned with conservation and other sustainable practices that don’t rely solely on fossil fuels, for example.