Every organic farmer faces issues when it comes to labeling. Each state has their own guidelines, and you must abide by them. Here are provided some examples of what and what NOT to do:
Certified organic producers do not:
■ Use synthetic pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides), except for a few least-toxic materials which have no natural alternative.
■ Use synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge.
■ Use genetically engineered plants and animals (GMOs).
■ Use antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones in animal production.
■ Feed animal byproducts to livestock.
Organic producers do:
■ Maintain an organic system plan that they follow to manage their farms in accordance with NOP rules.
■ Use multiple benign practices such as physical barriers, cultivation and resistant varieties to control pests, diseases and weeds.
■ Use natural, approved pesticides and a limited number of least toxic synthetic products as a last resort.
■ Use natural sources of fertility including manures, composts, cover crops, and natural fertilizers.
■ Use preventive practices and natural medicines to maintain animal health.
More than simply prohibiting synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, organic production rules require a proactive, knowledge-based management plan that uses diverse crop rotations to interrupt insect, pest, disease and weed cycles, reducing the need for toxic materials to control these problems. Organic production is a system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Processed organic products must be made and handled in certified organic facilities, ensuring that organic standards are maintained throughout food production, processing, and packaging.
Food that is labeled with the USDA Organic Seal is produced using organic practices by farmers who are certified and inspected annually to verify that their farms meet national standards for organic production. Organic is the only food label that is regulated in this way.
Food can be labeled organic in these ways:
■ “100 percent Organic” means that all ingredients and processing aids are certified organic.
■ “Organic” can be used on products that contain at least 95 percent certified organic ingredients, with the remainder only approved ingredients.
■ “Made with Organic Ingredients” can be used on products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.
Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients are not allowed to use the term “Organic” on their label. Organic ingredients can be identified in the ingredients list.
Only the first two categories are allowed to use the Organic Seal on labels.
Many people equate “natural products” with organic ones. That is simply not so. Certain guidelines must be met in order for a product to be labeled “organic”, as you’ve just experienced. Buy wise, and buy organic!