Organic certification is one of the best things to come out of the federal government. Run by the USDA, organic certification audits the process of food production, handling and packaging. A farmer who obtains this strictly controlled USDA certification must be able to prove that no synthetic chemicals were on their farm. Everything that goes onto the plants — fertilizer, insecticides, etc. — must be from a stringent list of acceptable items. This is all audited for compliance, both at the paperwork level (showing purchase receipts, for example) and physically at the farm.
At the food formulator and packing level, this certification means a very stringent process for tracking raw materials is followed.
Both farmers and food packers are audited once a year by a USDA-approved organic certifier. This includes an on-site inspection which covers detailed requirements including cleaning solutions for machinery and even rodent control. Toxic rat poisons, for example, are not allowed to be used in a certified organic facility.
In contrast to organic food production, other operations can spray any toxic sludge they wish on crops in the field, including sludge laden with heavy metals. Food packing and handling can take place in a warehouse that’s chemically fumigated with toxic chemicals. There are no requirements that food batches be tracked or tested for possible contamination.
Because of the requirements of organic certification, organic foods consistently test far lower in synthetic chemicals, and of course genetically modified foods are not allowed to be labeled “organic” at all. Organic foods are higher in nutrients.
12/3/2012 The largest study to date to examine the nutrient content of organic food has found that it is generally more nutritious than conventionally grown produce. The four-year study led by Professor Carlo Leifert of Newcastle University is known as the Quality Low Input Food Project, and will be released in full over the next 10 months. It found that organic fruits and vegetables contained as much as 40 percent higher levels of antioxidants, which are believed to reduce the risk of heart disease and many cancers. Organics also had higher levels of beneficial minerals such as zinc. And milk from organically-fed herds had antioxidant levels up to 90 percent higher than milk from conventional herds.
The study looked at fruit, vegetables and animals raised and grown on adjacent organic and conventional sites on a 725-acre farm attached to Newcastle University, and at other European sites as well.