What is Organic?

Organic refers not only to the food itself, but also to how it is produced and processed. Organic food production is based on a system of farming that mimics natural ecosystems and maintains and replenishes the fertility and nutrients of the soil. Organic Production integrates cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Organic foods are produced without the use of genetically modified organisms and irradiation. Processed organic foods are handled carefully to maintain the integrity of organic ingredients going into the products.

What does the organic food labeling actually mean?

100% Organic All organic ingredients
Any processing aids used must be organic
No non-organic ingredients are used
USDA Seal allowed
Must list organic certification agent
Example: 100% Organic Cereal
Organic At least 95% organic ingredients
Remaining 5% can be non-organic allowed ingredients (i.e. vitamins, citric acid, baking powder)
All agricultural ingredients must be organic unless not available
USDA Seal allowed
Must list certification agent
Example: Organic Cereal
Made with Organic Ingredients At least 70% organic ingredients
Remaining 30% can be non-organic allowed ingredients (i.e. vitamins, citric acid, baking powder) OR non-organic agricultural ingredients
USDA Seal prohibited
Must list certification agent
Example: Cereal made with organic oats, raisins, and dates
Products with less than 70% Organic Ingredients Any level of organic ingredients
No restrictions on remaining ingredients
No certification claims can be made
USDA Seal prohibited
Only mention organic in ingredient listing
Example: ingredients: organic oats, organic raisins

What does certification mean?

“Certified” means that the food, feed or fiber has been grown and handled according to strict organic standards which are enforced by independent third-party state or private organizations. Certification includes inspections of farm fields, livestock and processing facilities, detailed record keeping and periodic testing of soil, water and produce to ensure that growers and processors are meeting the standards of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) or other third party standards.