Organic Food: What is it?

Organic Food: What is it?

The definition of organic food can seem a little hard to pin down. It varies by country, there are different levels of organic food. Find out about the international intent, the USDA’s definition, and the meaning of terms like transitional organic, grown using organic methods, and natural.

Organics International captured the spirit of the four principles of organic agriculture with this definition, which they agreed on after almost three years of discussion:

Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.

What organic food isn’t?

Organics International emphasizes that organic certification describes a growing process, not necessarily the quality of the results. You do have to clean organic food and keep it at safe temperatures just as you would any other food.

Features of Organic Food 
(Generic)

Organic Food must be:

1. Produced without genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, sewage sludge, and other excluded methods.
2.Synthetic substances are banned and non-synthetic substances are allowed.

What are the different levels of organic food?

  • 100% organic: all ingredients and processing methods are certified organic.
  • Organic: all agricultural ingredients must be certified organic. Up to 5% of non-agriculture, non-organic ingredients can be used. Salt and water are not included in the calculation.
  • “Made with” organic: at least 70% of the ingredients must be certified organic, except for salt and water. Other ingredients must not be produced with excluded methods (so still no GMOs or sewage sludge).
  • Products with less than 70% certified ingredients can mention what they use that is organic, but they can’t use the USDA organic seal or “organic” on the main label.