Thursday, April 06, 2006

Organic Labels

Do you really understand the labels when it says "organic"? I thought 'Everyday Cheapskate' columnist, Mary Hunt explained the labels on "organic" labels well.

100 PERCENT ORGANIC: No synthetic ingredients are allowed by law. Also, production processes must meet federal organic standards and must have been verified independently by accredited inspectors.

ORGANIC: At least 95 percent of ingredients are produced organically. This means 5 percent aren't and can consist of synthetics. (Exception: Organic labels on seafood are meaningless because the USDA has issued no standards when it comes to fish and shellfish. There are no USDA regulations in place, possibly because you cannot control what gets into fish, even when they are farm-raised.)

At least 70 percent of ingredients are organic. The remaining 30 percent must come from the USDA's approved list. Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, strawberries, spinach, peaches, milk, chicken and beef absorb significant amounts of pesticides and chemicals when produced conventionally. These are items that warrant your consideration when produced organically. Not so with other food items that do not absorb the bad stuff so readily. In fact, there is little difference between organically produced and conventionally produced cauliflower, sweet corn, broccoli, asparagus, mangoes and peas. To pay more for organic versions of these items is a waste of money.
Mary Hunt also goes on to say that 'organic labels on cosmetics and hair products are meaningless, so don't waste your money paying more for them.' There are no regulations in the cosmetology industries regarding organic ingredients. If the item has one organic element out of fifteen, it can be labeled 'organic'. Learning to read labels is smart - whether it's food, cosmetics, hair products, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, or organic vs. synthetic, cheap or expensive - marketing advertisers often hope the consumer isn't as educated in terminology or regulations as they could be. The more consumer-savvy you are, the more power you have and that could save you some decision-making dilemmas and your pocketbook. To read the rest of "When It Pays To Buy Organic" go to: Cheapskate Monthly.

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