Real Food for Students

Organic Food System

What is Organic?
Organic is a labeling term that indicates that food and other agricultural product have been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster the cycling of resources, promoting ecological balance, and to conserve biodiversity. Unlike conventional methods of farming synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and bio- engineering - genetic modified are not permitted to be used also livestock that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

“Organic” is a designation used by the USDA National Organic Program to certify food that is produced without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, bio-engineering: genetically modified, radiation or sewage sludge.

 There is also a new certification too by a new grassroots-powered campaign called Organic Transitions, inspired in part by the United Kingdom's fast-growing Transition Towns movement. Organic Transitions is designed to mobilize organic consumers and local communities to start planning and implementing “transition” strategies so as to survive and thrive in the turbulent times ahead, with organic food and farming providing the healthy cornerstone for a new, more localized and sustainable green economy.

The USDA has identified for three categories of labeling organic products:
 The USDA organic seal verifies that irradiation; sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used.

100% Organic: content of 100% organic ingredients

Organic Livestock.
The USDA organic seal verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.

95% Organic: Minimum content of 95% organic ingredients 5% content can contain genetically modified organisms. (Genetically modified organisms)

Organic multi-ingredient foods.
The USDA organic seal verifies that the product has 95% or more certified organic content. If the label claims that it was made with specified organic ingredients, you can be sure that those specific ingredients are certified organic.

Products that contain less than 95% organic ingredients may not use the USDA organic seal.

70% Organic: Minimum content of 70% organic ingredients remainder 30% can contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and various other non organic ingredients.

From an Environmental Stand point

Plants, insects, bacteria, fungi and other organisms are a natural part of the environment and organic agriculture is a building block that works harmoniously with Mother Nature. Whilst organic farming avoids the use of toxic chemicals referred to as pesticideswhich is a general term that includes insecticides for insect control, herbicides for weed control, rodenticides for rodent control and fungicides for control of fungi- plant disease.  Many conventional farmers do apply toxic the chemical applications to the crops by doing so they also contribute to: soil, ground, water and air contamination. The crops are eventually harvested and placed in to the conventional food system.

 Organic Farmers build their own fertility in to the systems which do improve over time. Emphasis of the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. 

 To be officially certified organic through the USDA/ CCOF a producer may not sell their produce marked as certified organic until a 36-month transitional plan/ period has been met and adhered to. During that period the producer may inform their customers that they are going through a transitional period and not claim it is organic. 
Before a product can be labeled "organic," a USDA accredited certifier, such as CCOF, evaluates the farm or facility where the food is grown or processed to make sure that the producer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Certified organic operations are inspected annually by a third-party, independent inspector who reports their findings back to CCOF - California Certified Organic Farmers is a USDA accredited organic certifying agency and trade association.

Community Level
Local organic food and agriculture are a means of supporting local and regional businesses that build the strength of our communities. The growth of both farmers markets and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement are a true testament to reestablish partnerships between communities, farmers and small businesses.

From an Economic Point of View
Organic farming has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of agriculture for more than a decade by 20 to 24 percent annually since 1990. U.S. sales of organic food and beverages grew from $1 billion in 1990 to nearly $17 billion in 2006; in 2013 it increased to $30 billion.

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