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What is Organic Food?

Last updated 5 years ago

You hear a lot about organic food, but do you really know what it means for something to be classified as organic? Organic food means that the food items you are consuming are produced, processed and packaged without the use of chemicals. The USDA has several different labels for certified organic food:

  • 100% Organic: Only foods that are completely organic, or made with only organic ingredients may display the USDA Organic seal.
  • Organic: If a food contains at least 95% organic ingredients, then it may display the USDA Organic Seal.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients/ Contains Organic Ingredients:  A food item that contains less than 70% organic ingredients will not display the USDA Seal. However, they may list specific organic ingredients on the front or information panel of the packaging.

While the organic label from the USDA is the most regulated term, often terms are used when describing different meats including:

  • Natural: Meat that displays this label must be “minimally processed”, meaning that there cannot be any artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or any other artificial ingredients. This does mean, however, that these animals can still be given antibiotics or growth enhancers.
  • Grass Fed: This means that the meat has come from animals that only had a diet of grass and hay and that they had access to the outdoors. Grass fed beef, for example, has shown to have more of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Free-range: If a meat is classified as free-range, it means that the animal was not confined to a cage and had access to the outdoors.
  • No Hormones Added: This label means that the meat comes from an animal that was raised without using any added growth hormones.

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