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  • Gloria Otero

The difference between organic food, natural grown and GMO


What does “organic” mean?

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Meaning free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

How does a farmer go about converting land to organic status?

Converting land to organic status is a three-year process. There is a two-year conversion process consisting of building up the fertility of the land. Produce grown in the first year cannot be stated as organic. In the second year produce may be stated as “In Conversion”. It is not until the third year that produce may be stated as fully organic. Soil and natural fertility building are important parts of organic farming.

How do I know if something is organic?

The USDA has identified for three categories of labeling organic products: 100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Is eating organic food the same as eating natural food or conventionally grown? Natural foods do not contain additives or preservatives, but they may contain ingredients that have been grown with pesticides or are genetically modified. In other words, the ingredients in the ingredient panel will look familiar, but they have not been produced organically. Natural foods are not regulated and do not meet the same criteria that organic foods do.

What’s a GMO? A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms. The two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance (Roundup Ready) and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide.

What are the most common GMO foods?

The most common GMOs are soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow). Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat. It is not required to label GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in the U.S. and Canada, but there are substantial restrictions, and even outright bans, on GMOs in 50 other countries, such as France, Spain, and the UK.


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