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Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Health & Nutrition | 2 comments

Organic: What Does That Even Mean?

Organic? What does that term even mean?
For many it is merely just a word for “more expensive”.

Not to put anyone on the spot, but if we polled even just our own Facebook friends, how many actually know what it means to be organic, certified organic and what makes it different from conventional farming?

I am somewhat guilty of this. I have been buying organic milk for years now, as well as some produce. But, until recently I never actually looked up the exact definition. My assumed belief was- I wasn’t sure if that meant pesticides were allowed or not, but I figured they were not as toxic as the conventional ones and hopefully less residue. I was kind of right…

But, first. Let’s ask ourselves why some choose organic.
Based on my own experiences, my friends, and from the research I have done, it appears there are mainly a handful of reasons most people want “organic” foods.

  1. Some blindly say- it is healthier; some even claim it taste better
  2. Some say it is safer
  3. Some will tell you that organic means no pesticides.
  4. Others will say, for less pesticide residue on foods
  5. And two growing trends: a) because of the way animals are treated and handled and b) to save the environment

Ok.  A quick summary:
Organic farms:

  1. Cannot use chemical (synthetic) fertilizers AND to get the actual certification, they have to show no use for 3 years prior.
  2. Cannot use synthetic chemical pestisides; but are allowed to use natural pestisides, such as sulfur, nicotine and copper, which can also be found on the food
  3. Higher animal welfare- they reject the use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics and any other medication on the livestock. Animals are fed organic fed and allowed access to the outdoors.
  4. Also, crop rotation. If you plant the same crop, on the same field, year after year, it produces less yields and it depletes the soil of nutrients.
    Organic farming methods emphasize the use of renewable resources and conservation of soil and water. But this isn’t a new idea, in the United States or worldwide.
    It all starts with good soil. The right mix of soil leads to healthier crops and animals, reduces their susceptibility to disease, and increases the overall productivity of the farm. Common techniques used by organic farmers to manage soil quality — which involves not just the soil itself but also water, weeds, disease and pests — include the use of animal manure, compost, cover crops, green manures and crop rotation.

This is great overview of this topic: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/organic-farming.htm

I will have to get into what the arguments are for those who are AGAINST organic in my next post.
Until next time.

Here are a few additional links to some of the other articles I read:

  1. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/types.htm
  2. http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateN&navID=NOPFAQsHowCertified&topNav=&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOPFAQsHowCertified&description=FAQ:%20%20Becoming%20a%20Certified%20Operation&acct=nopgeninfo
  3. http://www.organicvalley.coop/why-organic/pesticides/

2 Comments

  1. Nice Work! I think this is important to know, what does organic really mean. Another good source is here, http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ORGANIC_CERTIFICATIO . I think it is important to note that organic does not have to equal expensive. When you buy anything in terms of food you are at the mercy of the regulating body and the farmer. You have to find someone you trust. There are a few options other than the supermarket, csa's are a great example. Some offer discount food prices if you help out on the farm. What a great way to see what is actually going into your produce! Of course this is not practical for everyone, farmer's markets are another option. Get to know the farmer, ask questions. More and more grocery stores have organic produce. Stay away from anything that is not sold the way it comes from the earth. Nothing that has touched a machine or involved in any process to make it. This includes bread, and anything in a box and some jars. Make it yourself! It will be cheaper and you can freeze the leftovers!

    • Great points SL… we definitely should expand on CSAs in another post! Especially since summer is here, farmers markets are bountiful.

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