Organic Food - Gourmet Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

Organic Food is a term that refers to foods that are certified organic (free of chemical additives or altered natural ingredients) by a recognized body. In the US, it is the responsibility of the USDA to certify a food product as being an Organic Food. All ingredients must be certified organic, and the manufacturer themselves must meet stringent guidelines in the areas of preparation, storage and packaging. No chemical preservatives, steroids, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering or pesticides may be used in the production of any certified Organic Food. Certified Organic animal products must be derived from livestock that had access to the outdoors, and be raised on organic feed and pastures.

The USDA requires that an accredited third party agency certify all aspects of the products being manufactured by Organic Food producers and handlers. The "USDA Organic" seal demonstrates that the product is made with at least 95% organic ingredients with remaining ingredients that are approved for use in organic products. Products labeled "100% Organic" must consist of entirely organic ingredients. Products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients may use the label "made with organic ingredients" and may list three of the ingredients or food groups on the main display, but may not use the USDA Organic seal. Of course, many foods may be organic, but without the certification they cannot be marketed as such. The most common term used to describe non-certified organic food is "all natural."

There are many benefits from choosing Organic Foods. Organic Food is grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Accumulated build-up of pesticides may cause an array of health problems. Organic meats and organic animal products come from animals that were not given antibiotics, growth hormones and were not fed animal by products. This minimizes antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, which have grown in numbers due to the use of antibiotics in the meat industry. The risk of mad cow disease is reduced by not feeding animals other animal by-products. Organic Food is also often fresher because it does not contain artificial preservatives used to extend shelf life. Also, Organic Food comes from organic farms which support the environment by using methods aimed at reducing pollution and soil erosion, conserving water, replenishing soil fertility and reducing energy usage.

Today, sale of Organic Food and beverages are one of the fastest growing segments of the US food industry. Sales of Organic Food in the US have grown from roughly $1 billion in 1990 to over $25 billion in 2010. Internationally, the US, France and Germany have the largest Organic Food markets. As consumer demand continues to grow for ethical and ecological food products, additional food items will be Certified Organic and Fair Trade. Fair Trade emphasizes proper compensation for the producers in developing nations with a focus on sustainability that supports communities and the environment.

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