Understand What "Organic" Really Means

This simple guide can help you decide if going organic is worth the price.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict rules about what constitutes organic food and can carry the label. Food must be produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones. Feed cannot be genetically modified, include animal parts or come into contact with sewage sludge or ionizing radiation.

  • USDA Organic: Single-ingredient foods (fruits and vegetables, meat, milk, eggs or cheese) certified under USDA rules and multi-ingredient products made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients earn this label.
  • 100 percent Organic: All the ingredients in multi-ingredient foods with this label are organic. There is no qualitative difference between this and the USDA organic label.
  • Organic: Products bearing this label contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The remaining ingredients are not available organically but have been approved by the USDA’s National Organic Program.
  • Made With Organic Ingredients: Products that have this phrase on their label must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.