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What Constitutes Organic food

What Constitutes Organic food and what foods are best eaten that way

Yesterday I posted more reasons to buy and eat organic, but I didn’t explain what organic is and which foods benefit us most to be eaten that way.

Simply, organic farmers don’t use synthetic chemicals to fertilize or synthetic pesticides to control weeds or bugs.  They use mulch as a weed barrier and natural methods to stop pests.  But of course its never that simple.

The department of agriculture says that only products can be labeled 100 per cent organic if they are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.  If the tag says only “organic” it must be at least 95 percent organic.  To confuse us more “Made with organic ingredients” are products containing at least  70 percent organic ingredients, but the official organic seal can’t be used on those products.  The USDA not only has strict standards for organic farming, it also inspects organic farms to assure their standards are being met.

The following are the 5 steps to Organic certification.- click here

Characteristics of Organic Farms:

Organic vegetable farms minimize the kind and amount of fertilizers and pesticides used to produce a crop as their overall goal. Emphasis is placed on long term planning based on information regarding crop pest life cycles, soil conditioning, extensive evaluation of ecological relationships, field conditions, and, options for management of these variables in a given field or on a given farm. According to the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, there are three basic characteristics that define an organic farm:

1. – Soil conditioning is maintained through the heavy use of composted and naturally occurring plant and animal material incorporated into the soil profile; green manure and cover crops, and, crop rotation.

2. – Soil fertility is depended upon the continuing activity of minor organisms such as earthworms and bacteria to digest organic matter and convert it to compounds available to plants.

3. – Pest control is advanced by “healthy” soil, plant resistance, selective and limited use of pesticides that poise little or no adverse effect to the soil, crop, environment and human health.

Beware of the top 10 foods most likely to retain the most pesticides- always buy organic

  1.  Strawberries
  2.  Bell peppers
  3.  Spinach
  4.  Cherries
  5.  Peaches
  6.  Foreign-grown cantaloupe
  7. Celery
  8.  Apples
  9.  Apricots
  10.  Green Beans

The following are safer because they don’t absorb much pesticide or are normally peeled before eating.  These aren’t necessary to be bought organic yet.

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Bananas
  4. Broccoli
  5. Cabbage
  6. Kiwi
  7. Mango
  8. Onions
  9. Papaya
  10. Pineapple

Organic Beef

To raise cattle organically the farmer must meet the health conditions and natural behavior of the animal in nature.  What the heck does that mean.  I call BS on that.  Many of these animals have been domestically raised for hundreds of years.  So this is a fine line but….

Organic livestock must be given access to the outdoors, frest air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture and must be fed 100 percent organic feed.  Any shelter provided must be designed to allow the animal comfort and the opportunity to exercise.  Darn, I’d like to live organically too.  Organic practices prohibit feeding animal parts of any kind to animals that by nature eat a vegetarian diet.  Yes, that is done in feed lots to increase the protein to the animal.  In fact that is what is believed to have caused “mad cow disease”.

To top that “national organic standards require oversight of production and handling systems.  Production and handling operations must undergo onsite inspections and have farm or operating plans in place in order to be certified organic.  The standards also specify feed requirements, including what is and is not allowed.

Organic production requires that livestock cannot be fed plastic pellets for roughage, or formulas containing urea or manure.  They cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones.  For an animal to be raised for organic beef its mother must have been fed organic feed for at least the last third of gestation.”

If you’d like specific information go to http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/prodhandreg.html

Conclusions and recommendations

When I started this blog I was extremely open minded about “normal” eating practices.  Knowledge is sometimes dangerous or at least expensive.  I can’t help but to completely recommend eating organic vegetables and beef.  Actually it seems that we’d be stupid not to. – jughandle