They are everywhere. On your menu, on the shelves of wine stores, their own section at the supermarket, even their own supermarket. As I sit here drinking my organic milk—under the direct recommendation of someone whose family owns and operates a dairy farm–I wonder what information the public is receiving.
So what does the organic label mean? It means the food product has been made in accordance with the standards set by the National Organic Standards Board. For meat, these standards have to do with housing, feed, and health-care.
The difference between organic and regular foods may may not have anything to do with nutritional value or content, but more about how the product is produced or grown.
The main goals that Organic Farmer Strive for are:
1. minimize pollution from air, soil, and water
2. Optimize health and productivity of the interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals, and people.
Organic encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution, staying away form convention methods to fertilize and prevent disease. Most people know this, but did you know there are different levels of “organic?”
Not all organics are created equally.
|Label Says||What it Really Means|
|100% Organic with USDA Organic Seal||100% organic|
|Organic with USDA Organic Seal||95 – 99% of the food product is organic|
|Made with organic ingredients||70 – 94% of the food product is organic|
|List the organic ingredients (< 3)on packaging||<70% is organic|
One thing many people often confuse about organic vs. non-organic foods is the use of antibiotics in the production of the food. Many people assume that organic foods will be antibiotic free and that non-organic foods have antibiotic residues. What people don’t realize is that there are withdrawal periods for antibiotics and drugs for animals that are treated, and allows time for the animal to metabolize and excrete that drug before the animal can go into the food chain.
Does this work? Well, the USDA does regularly test for antibiotic and drug residues in animals post-mortem, often these tests are expired, or testing is performed at such a low frequency that it can be unsettling. Not to mention, there are thousands of positive tests for antibiotic and drug residue daily. There are standards in place, but clearly the system is not without it’s faults.
So if foods labeled organic don’t have to be fully organic, and there are withdrawal periods in place to keep drugs given to animals out of the food supply, is it worth more to pay more for organic?
As for me, I love my organic milk. It is deliciously creamy, and a treat both Dr. Jed and I can’t deny. I’m following my dairy farmer’s advice. If he won’t let his kids drink regular milk, I’m not either.
What do you think of organic foods? All marketing, or do think the organic movement is a step in the right direction?