By Marisa Morgan Dallman
What Does Organic Really Mean?
NaturalShop Inc Copyright 1998,
What is organic?
Organic is the way food and fiber products are grown and processed. The term "organic" on a label stands for the commitment to agriculture that has a low impact on the environment. Organic production does not use toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Instead the system works to replenish and maintain the fertility of the soil. Organic food products are minimally
processed to help retain the natural aspects of the food. No artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation is used in the processing of organic foods.
What is certified organic?
When a grower or processor is certified organic it means that an independent third party organization had verified that it meets or exceeds defined standards for organic. These standards include:
1. The land on which the organic food or fiber is grown be must be free of prohibited substances for three years prior to certification.
2. Detailed records must be kept regarding the methods and materials used in the growing and producing of the product including plans about their management practices.
3. The inspection is annual.
All are organic products pesticide-free?
The word organic does not mean pesticide-free. Certified organic products are grown and handled according to strict standards without toxic chemicals. However, organic crops are still grown in a world where chemicals are now
detected in all rain and ground water. Organically grown does not add additional toxic chemicals and thus is healthier for the environment and your long-term health.
Is organic higher quality?
High quality products are grown on healthy land. Nature works to keep things in balance. Organic growers and processors are doing the same by selecting the most environmentally friendly solutions to problems that affect their
crops. By alternating crops, using plant cover crops such as clover to add nutrients back to the soil, and beneficial insects the need for chemical insecticides is eliminated. Chemicals remain in the soil for many years, which depletes the soil. Organic growers and processors work to keep their land healthy.
Why does organic cost more?
Prices of organic products reflect the stricter regulations that govern all steps of processing such as growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. Thus, the process is much more labor intensive and is usually on a smaller scale. There is currently a limited supply of organic products, thus the supply vs. demand ratio is off balance. Conventional crops are subsidized by
government programs, and organic growers have added costs to comply with organic certification standards. There is evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food production (cleanup of polluted water,
replacement of eroded soils, costs of health care for farmers & workers exposed to chemicals, etc.) were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same or probably less.
A recent study also noted that toxic chemicals might destroy a lot more than just insects and weeds. This study confirms that workers exposed to insecticides and herbicides have a significantly higher risk of developing
Parkinson?s disease. This article in Neurology (1998;50:1346-1350) is one of many studies now showing that choosing organic foods with less chemical exposure may have long-term health effects.
Copyright 1998, Marisa Morgan Dallman
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