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How to Know If Your Food Is Organic

“Organic” has become a widely-used term in the food industry. It’s often used in simple language to describe products that are healthy, pure, or more nutritious. And it’s true. Studies have shown that organic food varieties contain significantly higher levels of nutrients–vitamin C, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants–and lower levels of pesticides than non-organic food of the same kind (National Library of Medicine). 

Thankfully, certain federal regulations have helped define organic standards so we can know when shopping if our food is actually organic. Here are three tried and true ways to know your produce is organic…

 

1. PLU on produce sticker

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The Price Look Up (PLU) sticker on fruits and vegetables is a sure way to know if they’re organic. All organic produce is identified by a five-digit PLU code beginning with the number 9. In contrast, non-organic produce, likely containing pesticides or preservatives, will have four digits on their PLU sticker. In example, organically grown bananas will have a PLU number of 94011. Non-organic bananas will have 4011 on their sticker.  

 

2. Take note of the shape, color, and size

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You will find that organic fruits and vegetables vary in shape, color, and size. Organic produce is likely to be smaller than non-organic produce as they have not been grown with synthetic fertilizers. Some non-organic produce, most notably apples, have a shiny skin from the added wax or pesticides added to help preserve shelf life and prevent bruising. Organic produce does not have a shiny skin. The skin of organic produce can often appear rough or imperfect.

 

3. Look for the USDA Organic label

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It may sound like common sense that organic produce is labeled “organic,” but it’s important to know the difference between the wording and labeling at the grocery store to know if your food is really organic. Any product labeled “organic” on the product description or packaging must be USDA certified and contain only organic ingredients. If it's certified, the producer may also use an official USDA Organic seal (USDA.gov). A product labeled “made with organic ingredients” is not fully organic but contains at least 70% organic content. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a certification program that ensures all organic food meets government standards addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. “Produce can be labeled organic if it's certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest… and has not been produced with prohibited methods such as genetic engineering, radiation, etc.” (USDA.gov)

Whole Harvest sources in-season ingredients that have a bounty of benefits from producer to plate! We are proud to be non-GMO and organic where possible.

 

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