Conventional food producers often declare that organic farmers use more pesticides than most people think and that some are relatively toxic. Organic farmers deny this claim; as a result, there are obvious biases on both sides of the debate.
Organic foods do not appear to be healthier than their conventional counterparts; however they are gaining in popularity with consumers primarily due to food safety and environmental issues. In my opinion, choosing organic food is a personal choice.
Here is what we know. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, antibiotics, or growth hormones. The USDA’s National Organic Program has developed standards such as what or what not the food product contains. For example, an organic food may not include ingredients that are treated with irradiation, produced by genetic modification, or grown using sewage sludge. Certain natural pesticides and some manufactured agents are permitted. Farming and processing operations that produce and handle foods labeled as organic must be certified by the USDA. Three definitions have been established:
- 100 % organic = 100% organically produced raw or processed ingredients
- Organic = contains at least 95% organically produced raw or processed ingredients
- Made with organic ingredients = contains at least 70% organically produced ingredients
The following article attempts to further clarify how pesticide use in the organic food industry is regulated.