January 7, 2010

USDA Organic

The term ‘organic’ refers to ingredients that have been grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), or radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones and must be fed only organic feed, and raised in an environment that meets organic standards.

There are three basic organic definitions set out by the USDA.
  • ‘100% Organic’ means that a product is made with 100% organic ingredients
  • ‘Organic’ means a product has been made with at least 95% organic ingredients
  • ‘Made With Organic Ingredients’ means a product contains a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

  • Only products with 70% or more organic ingredients may use the term ‘organic’ on the principal display panel of a label. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel or ingredient statement of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

    How is land converted to organic?

    Converting land to organic status is a three-year process. There is a two-year conversion process consisting of building up the fertility of the land. Produce grown in the first year cannot be stated as organic. In the second year produce may be stated as “In Conversion”. It is not until the third year that produce may be stated as fully organic. Soil and natural fertility building are important parts of organic farming.

    Why do some organic foods cost more?

    Organic farmers don’t receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers do. Therefore, the price of organic food reflects the true cost of growing. Organic farming is more labor and management intensive and in some circumstances can be more susceptible to the threat of damaged crops since they are not treated with chemical fungicides, pesticides and so on. Organic farms are usually smaller than conventional farms and so do not benefit from the economies of scale that larger growers get.

    At The Honest Kitchen, we are actively working to add more and more organic pet food ingredients to our product lineup. At this time, our oats, rye, flaxseed, kelp, coconut and quinoa are all certified organic.