When perusing the aisles of a supermarket, confusing labels and contradictory descriptions jump out. Boxes of cereal tout their organic classification, while organic vegetables cost significantly more than their conventionally farmed counterparts. What does an organic food label mean, and what makes a product organic? Hold tight, we’re about to give you all the answers!
The organic marketplace
First, let’s take a look at the state of organic food farms. Organic farms produce $5.5 billion in produce annually. That’s a lot of veggies! Additionally, 39 percent of organic farmers plan to increase their crop output in the next five years. More consumers are choosing organic options, and it’s reflected through supply and demand. As of 2014, there were 14,093 organic farms in the U.S., with farms spending $19 million to attain organic certification.
USDA organic seal
What does it mean when your favorite foods are stamped with the green USDA Organic Seal? This label, introduced in 1992, protects food quality from the farm to the table in four major ways.
- Organic food is free of sewer sludge and irradiation.
- It’s produced without antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides.
- It’s free of genetically engineered and genetically modified organisms.
- It follows the National Organic Standards Board protocols regarding synthetic and prohibited natural substances.
Other organic classifications
Beyond the USDA official seal, there are various ways food can be labeled organic. Keep an eye out for these classifications:
Organic: Up to 95 percent of the ingredients used are organic. While you may expect 100 percent to be the threshold, that’s not the case.
Made with organic ingredients: At least 70 percent of the ingredients are organic.
When it comes to organic products, lettuce, apples, and grapes were the top-sellers in 2014. Organic and conventional produce may look similar, but how do you tell them apart? Produce stickers can help you identify truly organic products, as the numbers on each label indicate how it was grown.
5 digits, starting with 9: This produce was grown organically.
5 digits, starting with 8: These products were genetically modified.
4 digits, starting with 3 or 4: This product was grown conventionally.
Next time you’re in the supermarket, take a look at the stickers on your apples and lettuce before putting them in the cart.
Svelte plant-based protein shakes are certified USDA Organic and committed to promoting sustainability while providing the most nourishing product possible. With 11g of protein, 20 percent of your daily-recommended fiber, and naturally sweetened with Stevia, Svelte protein shakes are a great organic snack.
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