If you are trying to eat more organic foods, then you may already have an idea of which produce is worth buying. There may be some questions up for debate such as “why should we eat organic?”, but the question of “what is organic?” is a bit more clear, thanks to the USDA. Foods that have been certified organic, can have an “Organic” seal on the package. According to the USDA, there are 4 different types of Organic labeling:
100% Organic: “100 percent organic” can be used to label any product that contains 100 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water, which are considered natural). Most raw, unprocessed farm products can be designated “100 percent organic.” Likewise, many value-added farm products that have no added ingredients—such as grain flours, rolled oats, etc.—can also be labeled “100 percent organic.”
Organic: “Organic” can be used to label any product that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5 percent of the ingredients may be nonorganic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic and/or nonagricultural products that are on the National List.
Made with Organic…: “Made with Organic ______” can be used to label a product that contains at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). There are a number of detailed constraints regarding the ingredients that comprise the nonorganic portion.
Specific Ingredient Listings: The specific organic ingredients may be listed in the ingredient statement of products containing less than 70 percent organic contents—for example, “Ingredients: water, barley, beans, organic tomatoes, salt.”
Even though some products may be organic, such as a small local farm, they might be able to or may not need to list it. Producers who market less than $5,000 worth of organic products annually are not required to apply for organic certification, though hey must still comply with the organic production and regulation standards.
The USDA has a wealth of information on the subject if you would like to find out more, and even a great fact sheet for you to print out.