If you're looking to minimize your exposure to pesticides and artificial hormones, organic is the way to go. But in a sea of shelves flooded with products, how do you know that what you are buying is actually organic? It's simple. All you need to do is learn to decode the packaging and percentages. With this cheat sheet, you'll find out how you can shop smart for organic food and get the most for your money.
What does organic mean?
Before products can be labeled as USDA organic, they must be certified by a USDA-accredited agent. According to the USDA, here's what an organic seal means for…
Crops: No irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were used to produce the crops.
Livestock: In raising animals, producers "met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors." While this applies to land animals, keep in mind that there is currently no such thing as USDA certified organic fish.
Multi-ingredient foods: The product has been verified to contain "95% or more certified organic content." Any ingredients that are specifically identified on the label as organic have been certified as such.
Keep in mind that some foods, particularly from local or small farmers, may be produced using organic standards but have not been officially certified as organic.