Label Language Decoded

Choosing Organic became important to us when we was firsthand how using organic growing techniques was better for the farmer, better for the land and better for the consumer. When it came to starting our first delivery service years ago there was not any question in our mind. We could not in good conscience deliver food that may be hazardous to peoples door step. While we would enthusiastically say we LIKE organic produce we can just as enthusiastically say we LOVE people. It doesn’t seem right to ask a farmer to expose himself and his family and farm staff to chemicals that are proven to be carcinogenic. It doesn’t seem right to deliver something that should be GOOD to your doorstep that isn’t actually good for you. So today we still choose only 100% Certified Organic produce and also certify ourselves as Organic Handlers for Organic produce.

Even though our conviction over the years hasn’t changed the process for organic certification and much of the labeling and terminology has changed. The language used in Labeling is less than straight forward these days. To clear up some of the confusion we thought it would be good to brush up on some of the verbiage frequently used in today’s marketplace. The information was too much to fit on one box flier and will be continued next week. We began with two organic labels because they embody the passion and standards of Brown Box Organics.

100% Organic: These foods must contain, excluding water and salt, only organically produced ingredients. The USDA seal can be used on these packages. All of Brown Box Organics produce exceeds this standard.

Organic: These foods must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients, excluding water and salt. The USDA seal can be used on these packages. All of Brown Box Organics pantry staples meet or exceed this standard.

Made with organic ingredients: Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use this phrase and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. The USDA seal cannot be used on these packages, but the percentage of organic content and the certifier’s seal or mark may be used. The nonorganic ingredients (30 percent or less) may not be genetically engineered or include other prohibited methods such as irradiation or fertilization with sewage sludge. Products made with less than 70 percent organic ingredients can only identify organic ingredients in the ingredient statement and cannot use the USDA organic seal or a certifier’s seal or mark.

Transitional: The “transitional organic” label is not allowed under the national organic rule at this time. In the past, this label has been used to signify that a farmer is using organic methods but hasn’t reached the three-year pesticide-free requirement. Under the new rule, however, the USDA is not allowing it. Some organic advocates support a transitional label, saying it can help farmers make the switch to organic methods by offering them access to a premium market, and are asking the USDA to reconsider this portion of the labeling guidelines.

Certified Organic is your guarantee that you will receive the most wholesome chemical free seasonal produce available on the market. All organic produce must be Certified Organic by a third party organization in accordance with the USDA guidelines in order to be labeled as organically grown. Organic certification assures the consumer that the produce has been grown and handled according to strict regulations. Don’t be mislead by signage or people who say they grow organically. If food is being sold your only assurance as a consumer is that of a third party quality check. There are many people out there who claim their product is organic even though it is illegal to do so if not registered or certified. There is good reason for these strict regulations because unfortunately the word organic has been used for more profit or in naivety when the principles of organic farming are not being observed. The certification and registering procedures and audits are there only to help the farmer maintain the integrity of the product that will ultimately be in your home.

Pesticide free ideally means that there was not any detectible pesticides remaining on the outside of the produce when sold. This terminology is not monitored and is often misused. Plants are water based life, not unlike ourselves, and chemicals do not simply sit on the surface of produce. They absorb through their porous surface and through their roots. Chemicals used on produce become a part of the produce and cannot be completely washed away.

Non GMO means that the product was not made with Genetically Modified Organisms. Many seeds are altered but corn and soy are the most commonly grown using GMO seed. Many studies have shown that our bodies do not recognize the altered foods properly. Some studies suggest that consuming GMO product dramatically increases your chance of serious disease. Others avoid GMO foods because their values do not align with genetically modifying and growing practices.

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About Rachel

Owner @ Brown Box Organics.
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