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Are organic foods worth purchasing?
Yes! We believe that consumers across the U.S. are likely to get food that is safer and higher quality by purchasing food that has been certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or by state organic certification agencies. In principle, the only exception we would make is for food that has been grown and sold locally with the use of sustainable agriculture practices, even if that food has not been officially certified as organic by the USDA or a state agency.
When the USDA certifies a food as “organic” is it actually guaranteeing something about the food?
Yes. When the USDA certifies a food as organic, it is guaranteeing that the food was produced through USDA-approved methods designed to improve food quality and environmental conditions associated with food production. As part of this guarantee, the USDA forbids the use of sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering in any certified organic food, and at present, certified organic food is one of the few ways that U.S. consumers have to guarantee the absence of these practices from a food’s production.
In addition to the three very important prohibitions described above, USDA organic standards also disallow:
- Most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
- Growth hormones
- Many synthetic additives
If you’d like to see all substances prohibited in the production of USDA certified organic food you can read our article entitled The National List.
More than two decades ago, when the U.S. Congress passed its 1990 Farm Bill, a congressional mandate was included in the bill (Title 21) instructing the USDA to create a national legal definition of “organic” that would provide reliable, uniform, enforceable standards for any food bearing the term “organic.” The development of organic standards was designed to provide consumers with a food labeling process that they could trust to reflect high-quality standards in food production.
Yes! For more information on organics, choose from any of the links below: