What Does it Mean for Food to be Certified Organic? – Hillandale Farms Pennsylvania
Organic food has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many consumers seeking out products that are grown and processed using environmentally sustainable and chemical-free methods. But what does it mean for food from farms like Hillandale Farms Pennsylvania to be certified organic, and how can consumers be sure that they are purchasing truly organic products?
The Meaning of “Organic”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic food is produced using methods that “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” In other words, organic farming methods prioritize the use of natural processes and techniques, rather than relying on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Organic food is also produced without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or irradiation and must be grown on land that has not been treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers for at least three years. Additionally, organic livestock must be raised using methods that promote their health and well-being, including access to the outdoors, clean water, and organic feed.
In order for food to be certified organic, it must meet strict standards set by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). These standards apply to all aspects of production, from growing and harvesting to processing and handling.
To become certified organic, farmers and producers must go through a thorough certification process, which includes:
- Applying for certification: Farmers and producers must submit an application to a USDA-accredited certifying agency, along with a detailed plan outlining their production methods and any inputs (such as fertilizers and pesticides) they use.
- On-site inspection: A certified inspector will visit the farm or facility to verify that it is in compliance with NOP standards.
- Recordkeeping: Farmers and producers must keep detailed records of their production methods, including any inputs used and the techniques employed to manage pests and diseases.
- Annual review: Farms and facilities must be re-inspected and re-certified every year to ensure that they are continuing to meet NOP standards.
Labeling and Marketing
Food that is certified organic can be labeled as such and must bear the USDA organic seal. The seal indicates that the product has been certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agency, and meets the strict standards set by the NOP.
In addition to the USDA organic seal, food that is certified organic may also be labeled with specific terms, such as “100% organic” or “organic.” These labels indicate the percentage of organic ingredients in the product, with “100% organic” indicating that all ingredients are organic, and “organic” indicating that at least 95% of the ingredients are organic.
It is important to note that while organic food may be healthier and more environmentally sustainable than conventionally-grown food, it is not necessarily free of all pesticides or chemicals. Some organic producers may use natural pesticides or herbicides, which are allowed under NOP standards as long as they are derived from natural sources and do not contain synthetic ingredients.
Certified organic food is produced using environmentally sustainable and chemical-free methods that prioritize the use of natural processes and techniques. To become certified organic, farmers and producers must go through a thorough certification process and meet strict standards set by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Certified organic food can be labeled as such, and must bear the USDA organic seal, indicating that it has been certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agency.