Why Organic Just Got Better

United States Department of Agriculture creates new organic rules to bolster organic integrity even more.

November 9, 2012

New organic rules include routine pesticide residue testing.

There are lots of reasons to choose organic. Eating food with the organic seal has already been proved to drastically cut the levels of pesticides found inside people's bodies. Aside from that, organic farming also helps to keep harmful chemical pesticides out of waterways and drinking water supplies, too.


Unlike other foods labels, such as "natural," which carry little meaning, organic falls under a strict set of rules established by the United States Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program. The organic seal is already a very strong label because it has backing—a long list of harmful substances that farmers are not allowed to use.

But new organic rules that will go into effect on January 1, 2013, boost organic integrity to a whole new level.

Certifying agents who visit organic farms for annual inspections must test samples from at least 5 percent of the operations that they certify. That means inspectors will be able to test to make sure there are no chemical pesticides, arsenic or other contaminant metals, genetically engineered material, or synthetic hormones in any organic products.

Testing has always been part of organic oversight, but the new rules call for testing at each operation on at least an annual basis.

While testing has always been a part of organic product oversight and is required by the Organic Foods Production Act, today's action specifies the minimum amount of testing that must occur. The testing is aimed to prevent organic fraud and to boost consumer confidence in organics, now a $32 billion industry in the United States.

Need more reasons to choose organic? Consider this: Organic food is produced without the use of genetically engineered seeds that have never been tested for long-term impacts on human health. Organic rules also make it illegal to grow food in human sewage sludge, while organic animal products mandates more space for animals and bans the use of antibiotics synthetic hormones.

To save money on organic food:

1. Buy food in season.

2. Buy in bulk and preserve extras to enjoy during the off-season.

3. Use organic dried beans as a protein source and enjoy organic meat on special occasions.

4. Try growing some of your own favorite crops organically. Just be sure to use organic seeds or organic seedlings to avoid pesticides.

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