Defining Organic

The Organic Trade Association provides background and information about organic food on its web site, www.ota.com. The OTA defines organic as food that is produced in soil that is free of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. The food itself must be raised without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering, sewer sludge or irradiation. Cloning animals or using their products is not considered organic. Food must be processed minimally without artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in charge of certifying food as organic in the U.S., according to its web site. The U.S.D.A. allows the use of the term 100 percent organic on labels of food that is in fact 100 percent organic, excluding water and salt. Products may be labeled simply as organic if they have 95 percent organic ingredients. Processed food that is labeled as made with organic ingredients must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

Want to become a certified organic restaurant? Visit www.ams.usda.gov, which operates the U.S.D.A.’s National Organic Program.

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