The”USDA organic” label does NOT mean chemical free! So what does the label actually mean? If you see the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal, the item must have an ingredients list and the contents should be 95% or more certified organic, meaning free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering, according to the USDA. The remaining 5% may only be foods or processed with additives on an approved list. The question at hand is which, if any, chemicals should even be allowed in organic food?
Recently a committee called the National Organic Standards Board conducted their semi annual meeting in which they discussed which synthetic substances organic farmers and processors may use. Although most would prefer to exclude the use of all synthetic chemicals, there are some herbicides, fungicides, emulsifiers and other additives that some organic farmers say they cannot do without. At the meeting a potato grower from Chin Family Farms acknowledged that a natural substance, clove oil, can be used to keep potatoes from sprouting. But a chemical known as “3-decene-2-one” or “3D2,” works much better. He even showed pictures to prove his point. “Clove oil has been a wonderful product,” he said. But “we don’t feel it is effective enough. It’s hurting our business.”
Organic food is a $2 billion industry and continues to grow. Yet how is the consumer supposed to know what is truly organic and what is just mostly organic? This is where understanding food labels becomes crucial. Click here to read more about food labels. If you truly want chemical free food you’ ll need to look for the “100% organic” label or, better yet, grow your own!