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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Special Topics > Organic Foods
      Category : Health Centers > Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Organic Foods

Alternate Names : Organically Grown Foods, Organically Produced Foods

Organic refers to how food is produced. All foods are organic because they contain carbon. Organic foods are described as organically grown or produced.

What is the information for this topic?

Organic foods are grown, harvested, and distributed by special methods. They are also stored, processed, and packaged by special methods. Man-made pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and hormones are not used. Organic foods may not always be pesticide-free. Organic farmers may use both natural pesticides and insects to prevent crop damage. Manure, compost, and other organic wastes are used for fertilizers.

Organic farmers are certified. They must meet government standards. The land must be free of pesticides and herbicides for 3 years. Organic farms are checked regularly.

Any food sold as organic must be handled under government rules. Organic foods include fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, bakery, and processed foods. Processed food labeled "organic," must have 95% of the ingredients organically produced. The food cannot contain any nitrates, nitrites, or sulfites. Foods labeled "made with organic ingredients," must have the main ingredients organically produced. They must make up more than 50% of the total ingredients by weight.

Many people believe organic foods are more nutritious and safer. There is no scientific proof of this. Both organic and conventional farming supply nutritious foods. Organic farming methods cannot produce enough food for large populations.

Some people believe organic foods taste better. Studies do not show any notable flavor difference. Taste differences can be caused by food variety, growing conditions, and ripeness when picked.

Organic foods often cost more. There are higher production costs, more crop losses, and smaller yields. More cost-effective organic farming techniques are being developed.

Author: Kelly Streit, MS, RD, LD
Reviewer: Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD, LD
Date Reviewed: 04/23/01

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