Organic Produce Defined
According to the Agricultural Marketing Service, AMS, a department under the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, organic foods are defined as foods "produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation."1 This includes the organic feeding of livestock from organic crops where no animals can receive any biotech-influenced additives.
Facts and Myths
-Take note that "natural" or “whole food” products are not necessarily organic products approved by the USDA. A product can claim to be free-range, hormone-free, and natural, but this does not confirm that the product is certified organic according to the USDA standards. For example, cattle labeled "natural" may be raised without growth hormones or antibiotics but might not be certified organic because they may eat grains that are not organically processed so the cattle cannot obtain a certified stamp from the USDA.
-Many farmers are not going strictly "organic" based on the expensive standards process and the length of time it takes to become organic. After meeting all the USDA requirements, the farmer needs to continue to raise the prices of the products in order to sustain the cost of production. This results in the increased consumer cost.
-Research regarding the benefits of organic products is still highly controversial. For example, some studies have found that organically grown tomatoes held more flavonoids than conventional tomatoes. However, these results included many other variables, such as the nutrient content of the soils and the rainfall levels for both organic and conventional tomatoes. Unfortunately, no hard data is available stating whether or not organic products are more beneficial.
-Due to all the controversy over the benefits and the cost-effectiveness of buying only organic products, MV Nutrition believes that it is best to buy natural, whole foods and to support local farmers. Because we are lucky enough to live in California where agriculture is booming, we have the opportunity to frequent our local farmer's markets. By buying local, we can help to maintain a sustainable environment and support the American economy.
-People need to consume everything in moderation. Making the best choices of foods by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and whole foods, is the best way to go. Until further scientific research concludes that all pesticides and hormones are "bad," we cannot promote only organic, but we can promote variety, moderation, and locality.
Created by: Sarah Koszyk, Dietetic Intern.
1. The National Organic Program. Organic food standards and labels: the
facts. Retrieved October 11, 2006, from