The Legal Definition of Organic Food

In order to be “certified organic,” products must be grown and manufactured in a way that abides by the standards set by the country they are sold in and those “standards” do vary from country to country.

When you see a label that says “certified organic,” that means that the way in which the food was grown and processed met the standards set by the government of the United States. You will see labels that simply say “organic.” This label doesn’t really mean very much unless you could know what country’s standards was used to produce the food. In many countries, the standards for organic products are considerably lower than they are in America.

In order for the products produced on a farm or ranch in the United States to be “certified organic,” the farm or ranch must have met some very, very tough standards. The farmer or rancher must also have paid some pretty substantial fees. It really isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.

Basically, from the point of view of the consumer, organic food means that the food was raised without using toxic fertilizers, pesticides, or drugs. You might think of the tomatoes that you grow in your backyard without the use of commercial fertilizers or pesticides are “organic,” and basically they are, but they don’t meet the standards set by the U.S. government to be “certified organic.”

I’m not telling you not to raise those “organic” vegetables in your backyard garden. Of course, you should. They won’t be covered with all kinds of harmful chemicals, and that is much better for you and your family. But if you want to set up a fruit stand on the corner and sell your overflow, you can say that the produce is organic – but you cannot say that it is “certified organic” because it isn’t.


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