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What is Organic Food? - Definition, Facts, Pros & Cons

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  • 0:02 Definition of Organic Food
  • 1:02 Facts About Organic Food
  • 2:26 Pros
  • 3:21 Cons
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Ricketts

Donna Ricketts is a health educator with 15 years of professional experience designing health and wellness programs for adults and children.

In this lesson, you will learn about organic food, and read some facts about these types of foods. You will also learn about a few of the advantages and disadvantages of consuming organic foods.

Definition of Organic Food

There was a time when you would only find organic food in specialty health food stores, but now you can buy these items just about anywhere. You can find organic food in big chain grocery stores, farmers' markets and corner stores. In addition to organic produce, you can find organic foods such as meat, cheese, cereal and granola bars stacked on most supermarket shelves.

Organic food is food that is produced using methods of organic farming. So, what does organic farming entail? With organic farming, produce is generally grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, irradiation (a form of radiation used to kill bacteria) or biotechnology. The livestock on organic farms are also fed organically-grown feed, are free to roam most of the time and are not given antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.

Facts about Organic Food

Here are some facts about organic food production. For any food product in the United States to be labeled and sold as organic, it must meet all of the requirements set out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) organic regulations. To use the USDA organic seal, the food product must be certified organic and have 95% or more organic content. For a food item to be labeled 100% organic, it must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients. Foods that use at least 70% organic ingredients may be labeled made with organic ingredients, but no USDA seal can be displayed on them.

Beware of foods that claim to be all natural. This does not mean the same thing as grown organically. 'All natural' typically means that the food product contains no artificial ingredients. To date, little difference exists between the nutritional benefits of organic food versus conventional food. The USDA makes no claims that organically-produced food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food. As consumer demand increases the production of organic food, debate continues about the advantages and disadvantages of consuming organic foods.

Pros of Organic Food

As is the case with most things, there are both pros and cons to organic food. Here are some pros:

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