What does it mean to be labeled organic and why do most not know what it means?

The term “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, and meat.

Organic food is grown without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers; it’s grown in a way that preserves the environment; it’s grown without antibiotics or growth hormones; preservatives such as nitrates are avoided. So no chemistry to fool around with Mother Nature.

Photo by Derek Liang, cover by Bethany Szentesi

Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.

For example, organic farmers use no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their crops. They also practice rotational grazing—moving cattle or sheep from one plot of land to another so that they don’t damage the soil in any way.

Organic farming is not just about growing food; it’s also about what happens after the harvest takes place: how those foods are processed, packaged, and transported before reaching your kitchen table or grocery store shelf.

In the U.S., farmers who wish to sell their crops as “organic” must be certified by an accredited agency. In order for a farm’s plan to qualify, it must meet all of the USDA’s stringent standards.

The idea of organic farming has existed in various forms since the beginning of agriculture.

Organic farming predates modern agriculture. Organic agriculture is about healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, and healthy people. In the early 1900s, a growing reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides sparked new interest in organic farming methods. Organically grown crops require less water than their chemically-fertilized counterparts do—and this has been shown to reduce pollution when those resources are used up quickly during drought conditions or other times when demand might increase significantly due to pressure from outside sources like climate change.

“Being labeled organic is not just about being able to say that a product is organic. It’s about showing customers what it means for a product to be called organic and making sure that the label is accurate.”

20 million people today buy organic food each year.

That’s a lot of people!

It might surprise you to know that there are about 8 billion people on Earth, which means that even if every single person ate an organic diet for the rest of their lives, it would still equal just under 25% of total global production. So what does this mean for you? Well, if you’re one of those 20 million who buys organic produce or meat and dairy products—or even if your family members do—you’ve helped make a difference in how our planet is protected from harmful chemicals and substances like pesticides.

Photo by Soroush Karimi

The organic food industry is a booming business, with sales surging last year by 12.4% to $61.9 billion. Of those shoppers, 70% purchased organic food, but only 20% of respondents could define organic. 

The label “organic” by itself isn’t necessarily a health claim. It just means the food was produced using organic methods. These methods include a list of federal standards addressing things like soil fertility, pest and weed control, and animal-raising practices.

Organic food is not 100% pesticide free. In fact, organic farms are often surrounded by fields of non-organic crops that use pesticides and other chemicals to fend off pests. This means that when you eat organic apples in your local supermarket, the apples may have been treated with some sort of chemical before being shipped to your store.

In addition to this contamination from neighboring farms, heavy metals can be found in soil as well—and these heavy metals could end up in your food if it’s grown on land not properly managed for human consumption (i.e., no liming).

Organic food tends to be more expensive than conventionally produced food.

Organic food is more expensive because it’s produced in smaller quantities and by fewer farmers. Because there are no government subsidies for organic products, the price of a product would be higher than normal.


Being labeled organic is not just about being able to say that a product is organic. It’s about showing customers what it means for a product to be called organic and making sure that the label is accurate. People who are concerned with their health want to know exactly what they are eating and drinking, so it’s important for companies selling food and beverages to be clear about where ingredients come from and how they were processed before being sold as “organic” products. Full transparency is needed! Remember Eating healthy never tasted this good.

clearESG enables companies and brands to eliminate any concerns consumers might have regarding misleading labels and self-claims, no greenwashing allowed. Visit clearESG.app to learn more.

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