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Published on October 12th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans

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What is Organic Produce?

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 was finally finished in October 2002.  The act set a national standard for all organic food including organic meat and organic produce.  Let’s take a look at how the act defines organic food and what it means for what we choose to put on our table.

"Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.  Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.  Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.  Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too." (http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html).

The Organic Foods Act was adopted because of a great deal of confusion among consumers, producers, processors, and states over what the term "organic food" actually meant.  Before The Organic Foods Act, there were no national standards and the label "organic food" could mean many different things depending on the state in which it was produced.  Our lack of a national standard also hurt our ability to export our organic produce and organic meat because many European countries, Japan, and several others had a national standard for organic food.

Since October of 2002, the United States has a national standard for organic food that not only regulates farmers, but processors/handlers of organic food as well.  These regulations guarantee that all products labeled "organic food" meet the requirements established by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).  For more information on organic food, check out the USDA’s website, http://usda.gov.





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