Resources: Labels and Laws
There are four organic categories you may come across when shopping for food.
"100 Percent Organic"
Products must contain 100% organically produced ingredients with organic ingredients identified on the label. Labels may display the USDA Organic Seal and may also state the product is "100 percent organic."
Products must contain at least 95% organic ingredients that need to be identified on the label and may contain up to 5% non-organically produced ingredients which are not commercially available in organic form. Labels may carry the USDA Organic Seal.
"Made with Organic Ingredients"
Products labeled "Made with Organic [specified ingredients or food groups]" must contain at least 70% organic ingredients and no more than 30% nonorganic ingredients. GMOs are not allowed. The USDA Organic Seal is strictly prohibited on these product labels.
Specific Ingredients Listed
Products with 70% organic ingredients or less can specify organic ingredients in the ingredient list. The USDA Organic Seal and front panel claims about organic certification are prohibited.
Tip: Not all fruits and vegetables will come with a label, but the PLU (price look up) sticker can tell you if it is organic. If the code has 5 digits and begins with a 9, the produce was organically grown.
Tip: Fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market may not come with label or sticker, and signage is not as strictly regulated as it is in grocery stores. Speak with the vendor if you are unsure about the farming practices.
Tip: "Natural" does not mean "organic"—in fact, it does not mean much at all. Until FDA establishes a definition for the word natural, consider it a marketing tactic.
Tip: Looking for a specific organic farm or food? The USDA Organic Integrity Database comprises over 37,000 organic food operations. Search for certified organic farms or businesses, or by organic foods produced.