Naturally Rockford: Consumer tip: Be careful with organics labels

There are four types of organic labels. Organics with 100 percent organic ingredients are labeled “100 precent organic.” Products with 95 precent organic components are labeled “organic.” Both of these are allowed usage of the USDA organic seal. Any item with 70 precent organic elements can be labeled as “made with organic ingredients.” Products with less than 70 percent organic materials may list organic ingredients used, but the product itself can’t be labeled as organic. These two are not allowed the seal of USDA organic. Farms and handling operations that sell less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products may label their products organic if they abide by government standards, but they cannot display the USDA Organic Seal. (

Due to the subtleties of USDA rules, labels should be carefully read. A person maintaining an organic lifestyle must be aware of these guidelines. If they aren’t, food they are consuming could be sacrilege.

One should also consider from where their organic products are coming. The best to choose is locally grown organics. Not only does this promote the local economy, it adds assuredness. Imported organics must be USDA certified, but that doesn’t ensure nutrient level. When fresh food is shipped long distances, it begins to lose nutrients as decomposition comes into play. Packaging and added preservatives thwart this breakdown, but also downgrade organic standards and product quality. The shorter the distance a food travels, the more packed full of healthiness it is.

Also, let it be known: organic food is created in an environmentally friendly way promoting health; but it’s not the only way to achieve optimal benefits.

Jane Sirignano, says that as long as people eat healthy food and wash it thoroughly before eating, pesticide intake is minimal, and additives, while risky to an extent, should not be a thing to fear overall. The main concern is getting enough servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. She does mention people with sickness and young children do readily benefit from organics, because of weakened immune systems and size of bodies.

If you lifestyle choice is organic based, know exactly what that means. If it isn’t, eat fresh foods! They have some pesticides, but really are healthy for you. To go the in-between route, select organics that are sprayed most frequently in conventional methods, such as: strawberries, leafy greens, grapes, rice, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), apples, nuts, tomatoes and sweet peppers, tropical fruits, and any imports.

From the June 8-14, 2005, issue

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