Certified Organic - A guide to identifying organic foods and their benefits

You may have seen the term “certified organic” often in passing at your neighborhood grocery. While you may see it as an added premium stamp pertaining to some aspect of improved health benefits that the food would give, the overall impact and importance of certified organic goes beyond just simple labeling and branding.

In this article, we will discuss what certified organic means, its overall importance to food production, as well as its many benefits to your own personal diet.


What Does Certified Organic Mean?

Certified Organic, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, pertains to a stringent set of organic standards as well as key prohibited practices for companies looking to apply for organic certification when it comes to their products. While exact certification specifics regarding best practices will differ from product to product, the general guidelines usually line up with the following:

  • Avoidance of use of any synthetic chemical inputs for their production (including the increasingly widespread use of GMOs) for both present farm produce and over several previous years of operation for livestock.
  • A detailed list of production methods that coincide with the industry the business seeking certification participates in.
  • Ensuring separation of organic and any other possible non-organic foods being produced by the same company.
  • Undergoes consistent periodic on-site inspection for adherence to requirements.

Again, certified organic rules and specifics will definitely differ on the type of product that will be certified, especially since the company will need to apply for the certification for each distinct product they are producing. While these may be specific rules that pertain to the United States, other countries also have their own sets of rules and guidelines that carefully outline organic certification and the process for its application.


The Importance of Organic Food Certification

Organic Food certification is a key element in today’s rapidly growing agricultural industry. Recent studies have shown that by 2050 we need to be able to feed almost 9 billion people. As such, some food producers have taken to using genetically modified plants and hormone-injected livestock to produce more and more to keep up with this consistent demand.

While there may be nothing explicitly wrong with GMOs, with some of the most common foods available being generally built off GMO studies, some producers have also experimented along the fringes of what would be acceptable levels of genetic modification for the purposes of more efficient production. Sadly, many of these practices are done under wraps and often carefully protected as to avoid scrutiny by the general public. This even extends to the quality of life some livestock experience, as non-regulated means of production often lead to poor management of animals and lower qualities of meat for the purpose of higher output.

As such, organic food certification ensures that your foods adhere to standards set by key regulators (like the USDA) on what makes a food product organically made with methods generally accepted as safe by the public as well as a higher standard for internal operations.  


The Benefits of Organic Foods in your Diet

Organic foods carry multitudes of benefits for those that are conscious about what food they intake. One of the more popular aspects of organic foods that draw in many proponents is that they carry fewer pesticides, often toxic materials used to ward of crop-eating insects. During the harvesting process, some of the pesticides used may not be properly processed off, leading to unknown amounts of pesticide ingested by the consumer.

Certified Organic products restrict the use of non-organic and toxic pesticides, ensuring that your harvested foods stay clean and ready to eat. Moreover, some reports claim that organic foods can be richer in their key nutrients as well as potentially fresher due to the lack of artificial preservatives, requiring most organic produce to come from nearby farms.


Final Thoughts

Organically certified foods aren’t just a label stuck on the more expensive items in the supermarket. Indeed, the proliferation of the organic food movement has even propelled the organic label towards bigger brands that can afford to subsidize a lot of their operations to adopt more organically inclined projects.

The next time you find yourself in the grocery, give an organic product a try and see the difference for yourself.

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