The Organic Element

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Want to get confused?

Take a look for healthy food on the internet.  You’ll find so many terms used that your head will be spinning in no time.

Let’s take a look at some of them and what they mean.

What Is Organic

Organic is another term that you may come across when shopping for pasture raised and grass fed food products. This term adds another twist to the equation.

Organic means that food is grown, or animals that provide food are raised in an environment devoid of any pesticides, chemically engineered food or grain, on organic soil, without hormones or injections, and it literally means a “clean” environment or produced using organic agricultural ingredients.

Organic Certification

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) is responsible for organic certification on all foods. In order to meet standards that allows the “organic” labeling of food, farms, growers and ranches must follow strict guidelines. The USDA performs annual inspections to make sure that farms meet all the organic standards.

Organic Standards

Here are some key requirements that must be met by farms for beef, pork and chickens to be certified as organic:

  • All animals that become commercial food must be raised on certified organic land.
  • The animals can only ingest organic feed.
  • They cannot be injected with any antibiotics or added growth hormones.
  • They must have outdoor access (note that no specific time limit is required).
  • Any organic feed given to animals cannot contain antibiotics, animal by-products, or genetically engineered grain, or grain that was grown with chemicals in the fertilizer or persistent pesticides.
100% Organic Certified label
100% Organic Certified

What Do They Mean?

100% Organic” label means that the product includes 100% organic ingredients and they typically have the official USDA Organic seal.

From the USDA website:

“100 percent organic” can be used to label any product that contains 100 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water, which are considered natural). Most raw, unprocessed farm products can be designated “100 percent organic.” Likewise, many value-added farm products that have no added ingredients—such as grain flours, rolled oats, etc.—can also be labeled “100 percent organic.”

USDA Organic labelThe “Organic” label means that ingredients are at least 95% to 99% organic, and the other ingredients meet particular organic standards. This category can also display the seal.

From the USDA website:

“Organic” can be used to label any product that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5 percent of the ingredients may be nonorganic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic and/or nonagricultural products that are on the National List.1.

The “Made With Organic Ingredients” label can be placed on foods that have a range of 70% to 94% ingredients certified to be organic. They cannot display the seal, but, the specific organic ingredients can be printed on the package.

From the USDA website:

“Made with Organic ______” can be used to label a product that contains at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). There are a number of detailed constraints regarding the ingredients that comprise the nonorganic portion.

Other products that have 69% or less organic ingredients can also list those on the information panel of the package, they cannot place an organic seal or label.

Final Thoughts

Being meticulous in your shopping can go a long way towards your overall health goals.

It’s certainly worth being cautious about your food selection, but, it’s equally important to know where the foods you eat come from, and what the animals it comes from eat and how they are raised.

As you can see there are many health benefits to choosing pasture raised and grass fed products. 

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