gallery Keeping Organic True

In recent years giant corporations that endorse GMOs (genetically engineered foods/genetically modified organisms) have been acquiring some of the most well known organic brands.   Are these acquisitions affecting and leading to a fundamental change in quality of ingredients? Are some of these giant food makers altering the integrity of the recipes without disclosure, after all they often maintain the original label.  See this chart Organic2014, courtesy of Michigan State professor Phil Howard, to learn which companies are buying out whom.

Just because a product may say natural or organic, without a label from a certified agency who’s to say if it’s true or if that statement has been verified. The USDA organic label can be found on products throughout the country, and with it you can be sure that the product is nearly 100% organic. The USDA label is pretty solid and dependable, though the agency is not perfect.  See what the USDA has to say below.

From HEALTH FOOD INDUSTRY OVERTAKEN BY CORPORATE PREDATORS  Dr. Daria M. Brezinski states, “Informed decision-making is imperative when it comes to food purchase and consumption. Many conventional corporations in the industry are notorious for using GMO’s, MSG, toxic plastics, additives and other chemicals; inhumane working conditions and hiring practices; infusing unregulated foreign products into local production (using banned pesticides and toxic materials); bottling tap water.”  Full article:

Some states like Maine, have their own third party organic farmers verification as do countries like New Zealand. One of the labels that can be trusted most in the U.S. is the non-GMO verified label from the NONGMO Project. If you see this on a product you can have peace of mind knowing at least there are no GMOs in the food.

From the USDA site:

USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.

Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In instances when a grower has to use a synthetic substance to achieve a specific purpose, the substance must first be approved according to criteria that examine its effects on human health and the environment (see other considerations in “Organic 101: Allowed and Prohibited Substances”).

As for organic meat, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.

When it comes to processed, multi-ingredient foods, the USDA organic standards specify additional considerations. Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions. For example, processed organic foods may contain some approved non-agricultural ingredients, like enzymes in yogurt, pectin in fruit jams, or baking soda in baked goods.

When packaged products indicate they are “made with organic [specific ingredient or food group],” this means they contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients. The remaining non-organic ingredients are produced without using prohibited practices (genetic engineering, for example) but can include substances that would not otherwise be allowed in 100% organic products. “Made with organic” products will not bear the USDA organic seal, but, as with all other organic products, must still identify the USDA-accredited certifier. You can look for the identity of the certifier on a packaged product for verification that the organic product meets USDA’s organic standards.

As with all organic foods, none of it is grown or handled using genetically modified organisms, which the organic standards expressly prohibit (see “Organic 101: What Organic Farming (and Processing) Doesn’t Allow”).

Hope this information is helpful in understanding the complexity of the modern food system. Stay tuned to the Wecologist for more information on organics, GMOs, pesticides, fertilizers, and why farming and food production matters.

“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.

Hippocrates the father of medicine