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The remaining 5% may only be foods or processed with additives on an approved list.
"Certified Organic" isn't the only label you'll see though. You may also see "100% organic,"which means all of the ingredients must meet the guidelines above, or "made with organic,"which means that the ingredients must contain 70% or more organic ingredients, the USDA sealcannot be used anywhere on the package, and the remaining 30% of the ingredients may not befoods or processed with additives on a special exclusion list.Violations of the USDA's organic labeling rules can earn companies civil penalties of up to$11,000. If that seems small, it should. The low penalties and the volume of organic productsflooding the markets have led to skepticism that the USDA is properlyenforcing the label,inspecting foods, and punishing violators. Some worry that "organic" hasturned into a marketingtermwithlittle meaning. Still, when you buy organic goods at most stores and from most known
brands, you can be largely sure that it meets the guidelines.We'vetackled this topic in detail before, and for more information on the USDA's organiclabeling program,check out this fact sheet, thefull federal regulations for organic terminology,
or visitthe USDA's organic certification portal. If you're not in the United States,the Organic
Certification wikipedia pagehas information on how the certification varies from region toregion.
What Are The Benefits of Organic Food?
Now that we know what it means to be "organic," we can discuss the benefits—or, in somecases, imagined benefits—to buying organic food. There are more considerations when buyingorganic foods than just the price tag and the nutritional content. Here are a few others:
Annals of Internal Medicine
summaryconcluded that organic foodshave no substantial vitamin or mineral advantage (save phosphorous, which is in highabundance in human diets anyway) over foods that are conventionally grown. The studyconcluded:
The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly morenutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposureto pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.