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What is Organic Food?

"Organic" has some quite specific legal definitions in most developed countries.

In the U.S, all farms or products claiming to be "certified organic" must be guaranteed by a USDA-approved independent agency to be meeting the following guidelines:

* Sound records kept of all operations

* No use of antibiotics or hormones in livestock

* No use of genetically modified organisms

* No irradiation

* Use sound soil conservation and crop rotation practice

* And most importantly, that there has been no useage of prohibited materials within 3 years prior to certification, or at any time during certification.

The USDA defines 'prohibited materials' as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and sewage sludge. It is also a requirement that there is no cross-contamination during processing, which means organic wheat for example cannot be ground in a flour factory that also handles non-organic material.

Produce grown organically certainly tastes better than the usual supermarket stock. It also contains higher levels of nutrients and far lower residual pesticides. You can read all the latest Organic Food articles and research at http://www.ge-free.com/

In general food grown free of pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms (GMO) is organic to some extent. Certified organic food is that which meets the strict criteria of the USDA as described above. Most countries have their own version of regulation.

Organic food can be classified into two groups, fresh and processed.

There are many additional requirements for certification of processed organic food:

* contains a minimum percentage of organic ingredients.

* has no added artificial ingredients like preservatives etc.

* is processed free of artificial methods like chemical ripening or irradiation.

Most processed organic food is now available in supermarkets. There are also organic only stores in most large cities now, and there will be many more similar stores as the production of certified organic food increases.

Jeremy is the owner of http://www.ge-free.com/ and publisher of the Organic News blog. Go to ge-free.com for all the latest organic food articles and news.

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