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How Organic Food Works


What is Organic Food?

­In D­ecember 2000, the National Organic Standards Board of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established a national standard for the term "organic." Organic food, defined by how it cannot be made rather than how it can be made, must be produced without the use of sewer-sludge fertilizers, most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetic engineering (biotechnology), growth hormones, irradiation and antibiotics. A variety of agricultural products can be produced organically, including produce, grains, meat, dairy, eggs, and processed food products.

"Organic" does not mean "natural." There is no legal definition as to what constitutes a "natural" food. However, the food industry uses the term "natural" to indicate that a food has been minimally processed and is preservative-free. Natural foods can include organic foods, but not all natural foods are organic. Only foods labeled "organic" have been certified as meeting USDA organic standards.