How to Tell if Food Is Organic

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Consumers who are concerned about the origins of their food have turned to organic substitutes for their favorite foods. The problem with shopping for organic food is identifying which products are truly organic. You need to be able to read labels and cut through marketing language to tell if food is organic.

  • Scour the packaging of organic food to find certification by your state of organic ingredients. Some states have regulations with stricter definitions for organic foods than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Search for the point of origin for organic food before you make a purchase. Your purchases of fruits, vegetables and meats from local farms increase the likelihood that you are buying organic products.

  • Examine the packaging on organic food to tell if the supplying company is fully committed to the organic lifestyle. Recycled cardboard with nontoxic printing materials can help you invest in products that are safe for your family.

  • Write down the ingredients list and dietary information on mass-produced foods as a comparison tool when you head to an organic grocer. Products that feature the same dyes and preservatives used in commercial foods are not organic.

  • Place the organic label used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in perspective. The USDA uses the organic food label on products that are at least 95 percent organic. You need to look for products with a USDA 100 percent label to ensure a fully organic product.

  • Avoid organic foods with the word "natural" stamped on the packaging without other indications of organic production. The USDA uses natural for a large number of products without preservatives that may contain other harmful toxins.

  • Consult with a clerk at your organic grocery store to help you find foods that are truly organic. A grocery clerk will have enough familiarity with products on the shelves to tell you the distinction between natural and organic foods.

  • Focus on ingredient names in organic cereals and other packaged products to find warning signs of mass-produced food. Dyes with a color and number combination as well as long chemical names should keep you away from certain foods.

Tips & Warnings

  • Read through statements by the suppliers of organic food as part of your research process. Some organic products feature a brief paragraph from the farmer or producer involved to ease concerns of consumers. These statements should be compared to the ingredient list to determine if food is organic.

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