• When you see this label logo or the words organic on your food label, do you know what it really means?

    USDA Organic Logo Seal

    Many people assume that if the word is on the label the food is entirely organic.

    When referring to a single crop such as spinach or milk, then the food is indeed organic. There isn’t anything else in the food, so no worries about anything in addition to that spinach or milk.

    But if you are buying brownies from the “natural” grocery store or choosing your organic energy bar, what exactly are you getting?

    If the food is 100% organic, meaning ALL the ingredients are organic, then the label may claim 100% organic and use the organic logo seal.

    If the food is made with at least 95% organic ingredients, then the label may claim “organic” and use the organic logo seal.

    If the food is made with at least 70% organic ingredients, then the label may list up to three organic ingredients on the front panel. For example, the flour, sugar and eggs in the brownies would be listed on the front. The organic logo seal is not used.  

    If the food is made with less than 70% organic ingredients, then the label can list them on the side or back of the package, but not make any front of the package claims.

    So, if you are seeing the word organic on the front of the package and the organic logo seal, then the food is 95% or more organic ingredients.

    But keep in mind that even if the ingredients are not listed as organic, they can still be organically grown (see this post about the difference between organic and organically grown).

    If you are purchasing produce but aren’t completely sure if it is organic check out the sticker/code.

    Most produce is identified by its four-digit code. For example, Rainier Cherries are code 4258.

    If the code is 94258, then you would know that the Rainier Cherries are organic. It is that simple. Four-digit code equals conventionally grown. Five-digit code starting with 9 equals organic.

    Really there is no need to know the actual codes, just look for the “9” to know whether your produce is certified organic or not.

    While knowing this information is great, it is really necessary to choose organic?

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    Ask yourself this: if you choose organic foods, why do you? Is it related to nutritional value? That they are healthier for you? Or something else – such as pesticide residue? Or disease risk?

    Next time: should you follow the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen? Or can you blow it off?