When it comes to organic food versus non-organic food, one of the most important questions that most diet-enthusiasts and food curious people want to ask is how to tell the difference. In other words, how to identify or differentiate organic food from the conventional food?
Frankly and honestly speaking, there’s really no way to tell the difference between organic food and the conventional food we are forced to rely on the people selling us the food to be truthful. Luckily for us however, there is hope in the form of labelling which tells us which foods are organic and which foods aren’t. In the USA, the USDA requires farms which are organic to follow a strict set of guidelines to be certified as organic.
Over and above this legislation, there are private organic farmers associations which have their own brand of certification as well. And the common factor among all of these is the fact that besides the certification, they also have seals with which they stamp foods and food products.
Labelling & ingredients profile
When it comes to the identification of organic food versus non-organic food, one of the easiest methods is of “labelling” or ingredients’ profile. So, if you don’t feel too comfortable about going over to your nearest farmers market to get your organic produce, you can always check out the labels in your grocery store. If any of the foods deemed organic in the store carry one of the many organic certified seals and labels you can be assured that it has been organically produced. The one thing that you might want to look out for, however, is exactly what the labels say. As ever, although there is certification and labelling stating that the food you buy is organic, there are different levels of organic. This is the case not for the fruits and the vegetables which you buy fresh from the store, but the case for the many processed and pre-packaged organic foods which tend to have more than one ingredient.
Therefore, although you might believe product you’re getting is fully 100% organic guaranteed, you might want to check again on what the label says to get the real story. If you take packaged organic foods, the labelling would consist of not only the seal stating that it is made from organic produce but also a few key words which will tell you exactly how much organic foods are in the package, if only you know how to understand what they are telling you.
For instance labelling for organic foods could go something along the lines of:
• 100% Organic – this food definitely has only 100% of organic foods
• Organic – this food contains over 95% of organic products.
• Made with organic products – this product contains at least a minimum of 70% of organic products (no seal is allowed on these types of food products)
• And when you go below the 70% mark of included-organic products for any packaged foods, you definitely not find either labelling or a seal stating that the food you’re buying is organic.
However, if there are organic products contained within this food product, it may be listed in the ingredients section as such, or even listed separately on a side panelling. To be completely safe in the knowledge that what you’re buying is the genuine article you need to look for not only the seal which states the product to be organic, but also the labelling which will tell you exactly how much of the food is actually organic.
Types of labelling
Another thing that you will want to look out for is other types of labelling which might lead you to believe that what you’re buying is organically grown food. Most of these labels are there not to tell you that what you’re getting is organic, but that what you’re getting is “natural” or a “health food” or something along those lines. Remember, it doesn’t have to be organically produced to be termed natural or healthy or anything else along those lines. “Organic” is more a state of how the food was produced than whether or not it is completely “natural” or “healthy” or not.
These foods can contain organic foods, but unless they have more than 70% of organic foods contained within the end product, they cannot lay claim to being organic.
Finally, considering the identification of organic food versus non-organic food, another point that you might want to be aware of is that not all products within the category of 100% Organic, or Organic (the two levels of organic food able to use the organic certified USDA seal), are required by law to have the USDA seal on their food products. It is entirely voluntary. So you might not want to go by seal certification alone to determine whether the 100% organic certified food you have in your hand really contains 100% organically produced foods. Check the rest of the packaging as well for more information regards the true state of being.