We have seen food products labeled with the word “organic”, but what does organic really mean? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the production of organic foods does not simply mean the avoidance of conventional chemicals. Organic farming supports overall system health by implementing a wide range of management practices to ensure biological diversity and soil fertility.
USDA ORGANIC Food Label
When you buy a food product that displays the USDA ORGANIC label on its packaging, you are purchasing a product that has been produced using the quality standards that are required by the USDA. Organic agricultural practices help to minimize the pollution from our air, soil, water, and food sources. Key factors that comprise organic farming principles:
- Reduction or elimination of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics.
- Use of crop rotations to manage weeds and maintain long-term soil health.
- Soil conservation, water cleanliness, and practices that restore ecological balance.
What Defines an Organic Food Product?
“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.” Consumer Brochure, USDA National Organic Program
Get Involved with your Local CSA
In order to learn more about organic food, there is no better way than to get involved with a local organic farm that offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. In a CSA, you become a shareholder of that farm. You prepay a sum of money at the beginning of each year which allows the farmers to buy the seeds and equipment they’ll need for the growing season. Once the food is ready to harvest, you get to enjoy the wonderful produce.
Growth of Organic Agriculture in the United States
According to the Census of Agriculture, the number of organic farms, the acres used for organic production, and the value of organic products sold have increased, with value of sales more than tripling between 2008 and 2019. As the data shows, organic is a growing and thriving segment of agriculture that is here to stay.
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