What organic means regarding food

Organic foods are produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Research shows both organic and nonorganic foods are nutritious and safe.

Organic products have become a popular option in recent years for consumers as more food borne illness outbreaks have occurred due to our food supply. Many people ask Michigan State University Extension, "what does organic actually mean for a consumer?" Organic in a title generally means that a food has been “organically grown” or “organically produced” with little or no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and no antibiotics or hormones. Is it totally pesticide free? Not always. Organic farmers may use insects and crop rotation to control pests. The Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, third edition says that farmers may also use chemicals that are found naturally in the environment, such as sulfur, nicotine, copper or pyrethrins, as pesticides. If these do not work, organic farmers may use chemicals from an approved list created through the US Department of Agriculture. The USDA has created standards and guidelines in order for a food product to be labeled as organic. 

Organic farmers will use manure, compost and other organic wastes to fertilize their crops. The soil is enhanced through crop rotation, tillage and cover crops. Both synthetic fertilizers and organic fertilizers are effective for plant growth. The plant cannot distinguish between a synthetic fertilizer and an organic fertilizer and both break down in the soil. When raising organically managed livestock, poultry and animals, farmers follow similar stringent guidelines. Any animal treated with medication can’t be sold as organic. 

The Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, third edition says that there is no conclusive scientific evidence that shows organically produced foods are healthier or safer. Both methods of farming provide us with nutritional foods. Many factors influence the nutrients of foods including the climate, soil content, maturity at harvest and the way our food is handled after it is harvested to name a few. In order for a product to be labeled organic, a farmer earning more than $5,000 must be certified. This will allow the farmer to place the words “100 percent organic,” “organic” or “made with organic ingredients” on their labels. Organic products are not allowed to use food irradiation to destroy bacteria, sewage sludge and genetic engineering. Regardless of which method of production you choose as a consumer, you can be assured the food you are eating is nutritious and safe.

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