Everyone seems to want to get on the bandwagon and go ‘organic’. You hear it from your friends, neighours and family members. What’s so great about organic food anyway? What makes any food organic?

Well, in truth, it is true that organic food is good for you. There are many benefits to eating organic food. So before we get to that and before you decide whether going organic is the way for you, first let’s understand what it really means when people use the word ‘organic’.

When you see a sign or a sticker like ‘USDA Organic’, it means that about 95% of the ingredients in that food is organic. That is, it is grown without any presence of pesticides, chemically treated fertilizers, or is not processed with solvents or engineering methods. The farmers also refrain from modifying their produce using GM or radiation.

You might wonder what happens to the remaining 5% of the food.  That part may contain additives or processing but is approved by the USDA.

There are other signs as well.

  • ‘Made with organic’ means the ingredients are 70% organic.
  • ‘100% organic’ speaks for itself

Organic produce can be a variety of legumes, fruits, grains, vegetables, honey, and dairy food.

Organic also refers to animal produce as well; eggs, for instance, which are certified organic and come from free-range chickens, not from caged ones.

Organic farming is where the animals are treated with respect, given enough freedom to move around, are immediately tended to when ill and, most importantly, the animals are not fed growth hormones to boost milk or meat production.

These labels are a serious business and using them without valid approvals can mean being fined more than $10,000 by the food authorities.

People buy organic foods for the obvious health benefits, but also for ethical reasons as well.