What Does Organic Really Mean?

The essence of the meaning of organic, as defined by the USDA is this:

  • No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides
  • No sewage sludge
  • No irradiation
  • No genetic engineering (GMOs)
  • Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and grass in humane conditions and must be fed certified organic feed
  • No antibiotic or growth hormones used on animals

My grandfather, JI Rodale, was the founder of the organic movement in America, and his philosophy was that healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people. And today, that is still the philosophy behind the research we do at the Rodale Institute in Maxatawny, Pennsylvania, which is home to the longest running study comparing organic farming to conventional farming. Not only have we proven that organic farming is more productive (especially in droughts and floods), more profitable, and more efficient than conventional farming, but in fact if we want to feed the world, organic farming is the only way to do it for the long term. All of our research has been replicated and validated around the world, including by the USDA.

So…play this game with your kids in the store: Look for the little green label! When Lucia, my daughter, was little and she would ask me for every sugary chemical thing in the store, I told her that if she found the USDA organic label on it, I would buy it for her. Not only did she find the game super fun, but she stopped bugging me for the other stuff. And know she can taste the difference (organic tastes better!).


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