What Does Organic Really Mean?

When you go to the grocery store and buy a packaged product that says its organic, it makes you feel good right? We’re told organic products are better for our health and our planet’s well-being and all this does have some substance. What lacks in mainstream conversation about organic products, however, is some of the finer details. It took 10 years of discussion and debate to come up with the organic food regulations and like everything else in this world, they are not perfect. Underneath the official “Certified Organic” umbrella, there are different shades of meaning when it comes to packaged multi-ingredient foods.

  • “100% Organic” means that the product contains only organic ingredients and processing aids. The USDA seal and the logo of the third-party certifier may appear on the product.
  • “Organic” means that the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients. Any remaining ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances on the approved National List, including specific nonorganically produced agricultural products that aren’t commercially available in organic form. The USDA seal and the logo of the third-party certifier may appear on the product.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients” means that the product must include at least 70% organic ingredients. It may carry the certifier’s seal but not the USDA seal. And it can list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups.

This means unless what you’re buying is 100% Organic, it might still have other stuff in there such as GMOs. When I buy something that has GMOs and weird chemicals I can’t pronounce, I feel like I’ve been cheated. The dubious ties between the government and Monsanto don’t make me feel that much better about ‘Organic’ products either. Don’t get me wrong, I support organic products and where the whole organic/green world is headed. I want to be real though and recognize that it’s not perfect and it needs to be better.

We need to demand more as consumers and expect something better. Even if you’re shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joes (both of which I shop at and respect), you still have to turn over the packages, read the ingredients and be conscious about what you’re buying. If you’re not happy with it, demand more from the companies you buy from and vote with you wallet for the one’s that are doing a good job.

What are some companies you admire that are doing a good job with organic products? 

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