Organic: Do you Know What it Really Means?

organic seal, USDA organic seal, organic food, organic, USDAThey 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.

herford cattle, bull, cow, cattle, herford

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?

glass of milk, milk and cookies, milk and chocolate chip cookiesAs 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?

Bottoms up!

Dr. Laci


Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM

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November 19, 2010 at 10:29

Good post:) There is a real food movement now in alot of communities to get your meat and vegetables locally from farmers that you know. I do eat organic and local when it is available and we are trying to eat only real food and not processed and boxed. Not too long ago we started drinking raw milk because I met a farmer that I trust to do this.

November 19, 2010 at 16:09

Thanks Jeanie! And doesn’t the food taste so much better and fresher? I have not had raw milk, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE my organic milk! It is a completely different taste than regular.

November 19, 2010 at 18:18

I think that our world is polluted by chemicals and drugs and other things and that it is killing us softly.

I think that the closer the food gets to being organic the better it is.

From experience I have to say that organic chicken or beef taste completely different. If the taste is so different, other aspects likely will be also.

November 19, 2010 at 18:27

I know Jana! I was fortunate enough to work as a Senior Veterinary Medical Officer for the USDA briefly (it was NOT what I expected, hence the brief!) and I am truly grateful for all that I learned.

Seeing what really happens and what is passable as edible for human consumption scared us so much. We have DRASTICALLY altered our eating habits. You would not believe me–well, you probably would as we know each other pretty well by now, but it is CRAZY! I plan on writing about it after we have a lawyer review it first.

November 19, 2010 at 18:49

I’d believe you just fine. Granny used to work in a place where they made deli (sausages and things) and I had a summer job in a place where they made milk products and strawberry and cherry products.

They had their own strawberry field, the strawberries looked ok though didn’t taste the same as the ones we grew in our own garden at the time.

However, as the crates with strawberries came from the field, we’d clean of the stems and sort them out for export.

The rest, the rotten strawberries, the leaves, stems, spiders and whatever else was in the crate got processed for strawberry product used for ice-creams.

It all got mulched, then went into big tubs which had the same nasty looking rim as from soap after a bath.

Then it was put into large glass jars. There were two people, one filling and one washing the jars. May of the jars had green crap on the bottoms which there was no tool nor time to clean. All one could do to keep up with the filling was to submerge the jar into water and pass on.

Do I need to continue?

I can wait to read your experience from USDA!

November 19, 2010 at 19:05

[Jaw on floor] Rotten berries in my ice cream? Well, good thing I don’t eat ice cream, but I really believe this is why we are all getting cancer and diseases at ridiculous rates.

On the upside–I am super happy you finally got the response to our reply. We (Jed that is–I am not tech savvy, haha, co-founder of an e-commerce site) were working on that after we realized no one was getting our responses. I read in one of Dino’s to always try to response, which we do, but no one knew we responded! Learning curve!

RE the USDA, I want to shout it from the mountain top to the entire world, but I am a little worried the government would have me “disappear”. Man, I’d love to have a cup of *organic* coffee with you and swap stories! Btw, Jed could never drink non-organic coffee because he had horrible allergic reactions to it, but he now is able to enjoy our organic roast with no problems.

November 19, 2010 at 19:25

Well, that was in my old country. But I wouldn’t dare to guess how much different it really is here.

Yeah, I wouldn’t want the government have you disappear! Seen enough conspiracy movies :-)

On the upside, one Canadian vet who’s been preaching (against pretty much everything) got only fine and resigned on his own … hmm

Don’t know enough about the details, do know he was preaching home remedies and things.

November 19, 2010 at 19:22


November 19, 2010 at 19:43

Thanks Betty! There’s more where it came from. Thanks for reading!

January 14, 2011 at 11:30

My neighbor told me about an interesting article about how a husband and wife employed the love of fresh vegetables to join together the people in their neighborhood. Possibly we should share the joy of gardening.

January 27, 2012 at 23:11

I hope your information gets spread around so more people can see what the major obstacles are in this situation.

May 3, 2012 at 10:16

And after viewing your article ” Organic: Do you Know What it Really Means? | VetLIVE “, I ultimately made the decision to save it on Reddit. This is seriously a wonderful material to discuss with my people

July 27, 2012 at 13:43

Tamra watched my dog who i would have to say is like a big kid on sritoeds. lol. He loves to pull when you walk him and and Tamra took very excellent care for him while i was away in Virginia. She would text me almost everytime she was with him to let me know how he was doing and where they were at. I would definitely be using Tamra’s services again in the future. She is an excellent care taker for all living animals. I would not recommend you to use her services but to tell you to use her service. Its very well affordable and worth every bit of it.