A guide to help organic producers and farmers’ market managers better understand how the word “organic” may be used at a farmers’ market.
Want to know why you should choose organic?
Organic food is better for your family’s health and the planet. Buying organic is a direct investment in the future of our food system, so it’s a choice you can feel good about.
What is Organic?
Your food choices have a lasting effect on your family and shape their eating habits, but shopping can be challenging when we’re all bombarded with food labels appearing in various sizes and forms on the packaging, in the ingredient list, or on stickers. The “Certified Organic” label can help you make informed decisions at the farmers’ market or the supermarket. Feeding your family organic food reduces your risk of exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones, and promotes the development of long-lasting, good eating habits.
Certified organic foods are produced according to federal standards set by the USDA National Organic Program. These standards were implemented in 2002 in the wake of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and continue to be interpreted and developed by the National Organic Standards Board, a federal advisory committee appointed by the secretary of agriculture. Organic standards address many factors: soil quality, animal raising, pest and weed control, and use of input materials. Materials approved for and prohibited from organic production can be found on the National List. Find out how producers get organic certification.
The use of sewage sludge, bioengineering (GMOs), ionizing radiation, and most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers is prohibited from organic production. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals fed 100% organic feed and forage, given no antibiotics or growth hormones, and raised in conditions that follow their natural behaviors. (Learn more about organic livestock production.) As for the land – certified organic produce is grown on soil that has been free of prohibited substances for three years prior to harvest to ensure that the crops will not be contaminated. Focused on the use of renewable resources and conservation of soil and water, organic farmers enhance and sustain the environment for future generations.
But that’s not all! National organic standards also include regulations for organic processed products, including prohibiting artificial preservatives, flavors, and dyes. Organic ingredients are required, but the National List includes some exemptions such as baking soda and yogurt enzymes. NOP standards include specific labeling rules for both produce and processed goods.
Producers certified by CCOF have chosen to grow, process, and sell organic foods. We support organic producers and consumers by advocating for organic and providinginformation and resources on organic food and agriculture. You can help grow the organic movement by supporting CCOF!