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Is It Really Organic? 4 Kinds of Labels Explained

Today, opting for organic products is a booming trend. One reason is that these fruits and vegetables are more beneficial compared to traditionally-grown crops. However, not all products that have the word “organic” in their packages are 100% organically grown. This is especially true for products with multiple ingredients. To give you a better view, here are four organic labels and how to translate them.


Crops with an organic certification are not completely free of chemicals. But, having this label attests that the farmer or manufacturer of the product followed the approved methods of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), like using natural pesticides (compost or manure) and prohibiting genetically-engineered seeds. Thus, organic products have fewer harmful substances. The best part is that the USDA regularly inspect certified farms to ensure that their products are trustworthy.

Typically, a fruit or vegetable will have a sticker indicating how the crop was grown. For example:

  • Conventionally grown crops have stickers with four digits, starting with 3 or 4.
  • Genetically modified organisms or products (GMO) have stickers with five numbers, starting with 8.
  • Organically grown crops have stickers with five numbers, starting with 9.

As for products with multiple ingredients, they will have different kinds of organic labels depending on their components.


1. 100% ORGANIC

Organic fruits and vegetables will have the word “100% organic” plus a USDA seal in their packages. This label certifies that the food was organically grown, non-GMO, and did not come in contact with non-organic crops. As mentioned, you can also find a sticker containing five numbers that start with a 9. Aside from that, single-ingredient products, such as oats, sugar, and flour, may also have this specific type of label.


If you’ve noticed the word “organic” in the package, it signifies that no less than 95% of the ingredients are non-GMO and organically grown. The other 5% of the ingredients are non-organic but still included in the list of agricultural products approved by the USDA. This is actually one of the most common organic labels found in processed or commercial products found in groceries. Aside from the word organic, these products can also bear the USDA seal.


Another phrase you can see in organic goods is “made with organic ingredients,” which denotes that the product has at least 70% or more organically grown components. You will not find a USDA seal for these products. Usually, the manufacturers can specify up to three organic ingredients using various marks like the asterisk. To know more about the other components, you need to check the ingredient panel. In general, the non-organic constituents are non-GMO and produced through the approved methods of the USDA.


Aside from those organic labels, manufacturers can also use the word “organic” if the product has less than 70% organic components. Basically, the USDA does not allow these products to carry the organic seal or mention the organic ingredient in the front portion of the package. Thus, you may need to check the ingredient list to know which are organic and non-organic along with their percentages.

In general, consuming foods with organic labels can lower the amounts of toxic chemicals in your body. But, this doesn’t mean that opting for organic foods may free you from health problems. Overall, buying locally grown fruits and veggies is the best choice for your health, as long as the local farmers are using sustainable and eco-friendly methods.


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