How do I know if it’s REALLY organic?

Rule #1: Look for this seal!


Organic farmers are proud to display the USDA Organic Seal on their products. It’s a badge of honor some might say. Certified organic farmers go the extra 10 miles to comply with the long list of somewhat complicated federal and state regulations. In order to place this seal on their final products, organic farmers take many costly and meticulous steps to ensure their land, resources and supplies are USDA organic approved. Amidst nutrition facts, ingredients lists, and dietary claims on food packages, “organic” might appear misleading when shopping for foods.  Understanding what “organic” really means can help shoppers make more informed choices during their next visit to the store or farmers’ market.

The USDA has identified three categories for labeling organic products:

100% Organic (seal approved): Made with 100% organic ingredients

  • Animals must be raised in living conditions accommodating to their natural behavior
  • Fed 100% organic feed and forage, including cover crops and grasses.
  • No antibiotics
  • No hormones
  • Processing facilities must be USDA Certified Organic Handlers and federally inspected by the USDA. Animals are inspected antemortem and postmortem for proper health and packaging.

Organic (seal approved): Made with at least 95% organic ingredients

  • Product contains between 95%-99% organic ingredients
  • The remaining ingredients are not available by nature but have been approved by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). Some of these ingredients may include enzymes in yogurt, pectin in fruit jams, or baking soda in baked goods.
  • No antibiotics
  • No hormones
  • Processing facilities must meet same standards as 100% organic.

Contains Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients

  • May NOT use the USDA Organic Seal on packaging.
  • Strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not use the USDA seal or make any organic claims whatsoever on the front of the package.

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