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What Is Organic?

A lot of people wonder exactly what organic is - so here's a brief overview for you.

What is Organic?

"Organic" refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. This includes crops grown for food as well as crops grown for fiber, such as cotton. The word "organic" on the label stands for a commitment to a system of agriculture which strives for a balance with nature, using methods and materials which have a low impact on the environment.

Organic production systems:
  • Replenish and maintain soil fertility

  • Eliminate the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers

  • Build a biologically diverse agriculture

Organic food is minimally processed to maintain the integrity of the food without artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation.

Organic Quality

The quality of organic products is best defined by the commitment to maintain and replenish soil fertility. The highest quality food is grown on healthy land. Healthy land, as farmers well know, is the basis for a sustainable agricultural model. Over-worked soil depletes nutrients for the plants resulting in lower crop yields and lower nutrients in those crops.

In a natural ecosystem, nature constantly works to correct imbalances. Organic farmers do the same by selecting the most environmentally friendly solutions to the pest and disease problems which affect their crops.

Organic farmers:
  • Alternate the crops grown in each field, rather than growing the same crop year after year.

  • Plant cover crops such as clover to add nutrients to the soil and prevent weeds.

  • Release beneficial insects to prey on pests, helping to eliminate the need for chemical insecticides that can remain in the soil for years.

  • Add composted manure and plant wastes to help the soil retain moisture and nutrients.

Primary Source: Copyright 2008, The Organic Trade Association,

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