Magazine article Vegetarian Times

The Big O

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

The Big O

Article excerpt

Until recently, consumers shelling out extra bucks for pesticide-free produce were playing the supermarket version of Russian roulette. With less than half the states enforcing organic food regulations, proper application of the term "organic" hinged almost entirely on the honesty of manufacturers and retailers. Not any more.

In December, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited National Organic Standards-a set of guidelines defining exactly how a product must be produced in order to carry the coveted "certified organic" label. "When consumers see the word organic, they will know that the product has been grown and processed according to the same standards and regulations throughout the country," says Mark Retzloff, president of the board of directors of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the Greenfield, Mass. organization that represents the nearly 12,000 organic farmers in the United States.

The standards will apply to both domestic and imported products and be enforced nationwide by USDA organic certifiers. Here's summary of what consumers will be getting when they reach for organic:

* Raw products will be 100 percent organic (no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers).

* Processed foods will contain 95 percent organic ingredients. Organic meat will come from livestock raised on 100 percent organic feed, and with no antibiotics or growth hormones.

* Products carrying a "Made with organic ingredients" label will consist of at least 50 percent organic ingredients.

* Products made with less than 50 percent organic ingredients will only be permitted to use the term "organic" on the ingredients list. …

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