Organic is More Than Following the Rules
Organic food differs from conventional food because organic crops are produced by farmers who emphasize sustainable farming methods, use renewable resources and promote soil and water conservation. And organic foods are produced without the use of synthetic ingredients, including chemical pesticides or fertilizers. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed national standards for organic food production and handling — a food can’t be labeled “organic” without meeting these strict requirements. A government-approved third-party certifier must inspect the farm where the food is grown to ensure the USDA National Organic Standards are being adequately followed. Companies that handle or process organic foods must be certified as well.
The Organic Food Label
The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards help educate consumers as to what “organic” really means. Consumers choose organic foods by looking for specific wording on food labels, and products that contain high levels of organic ingredients, including Vermont Bread Company breads, are allowed to carry a special USDA organic seal on their labels.
Organic labels, including a USDA organic seal, may appear on certified organic products.
100 percent organic – products that contain only organic ingredients. A label reading “100 percent organic” and the USDA organic seal can appear on the primary display panel. These products include mostly “whole foods,” such as unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
Organic – products that are at least 95 percent organic, excluding water or salt. A label reading “organic” and the USDA organic seal can appear on the package. The 5 percent of the product that is not organic must comprise materials that are not commercially available as organic, or they can be nonagricultural materials that appear on the USDA’s “National List” of approved materials. All Vermont Organic breads are in this “Organic” category and carry the USDA organic seal.
Made with organic ingredients – products must contain at least 70 percent and up to 95 percent organic ingredients, excluding water and salt. As many as three of the organic ingredients may be listed on the front of the package. A label stating, “Made with organic ingredients” can appear on the primary display panel. The USDA organic seal cannot be used on these products. Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients – will be allowed to list the organic items in the ingredient panel only, but the product cannot use the term “organic” anywhere else on the package.
All organic products in the first three “organic” classifications and all individual organic ingredients must be certified by a USDA-accredited organic certification agency. Vermont Bread Company is certified by the Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF).