Organic Certification: How to Ensure the Food You're Buying is Truly Organic

When it comes to purchasing food, it's essential to make sure that what you're getting is genuinely organic. The only way to be certain is to look for the USDA Organic label, which is the only federally regulated organic label available on the shelf. Organic certification implies that farmers and companies have met stringent standards for the cultivation, processing, and handling of their products. To sell, label, or represent their products as organic, organic farms and businesses must comply with all the specifications set forth in the USDA organic regulations. Organic agriculture can reduce pollution and promote soil health, but there isn't enough evidence to determine if organic food is healthier.

Organic producers and handlers use common practices in diverse environments to ensure the integrity and sustainability of organic products. Derrik Parker, co-manager of MA'O Organic Farms, an organic fruit and vegetable farm in Waianae that offers educational programs for youth, families and the community, said they buy products from more than 100 farmers in Hawaii to bring you the best products grown locally on the islands. Organic standards guarantee that products have been grown without chemical pesticides and herbicides, sewage sludge, ionizing radiation, or genetic engineering. Some people buy organic products to avoid pesticides, not because they think that organic products are more nutritious. Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced in accordance with USDA organic standards. Organic operations implement site-specific preventive practices and document their practices in an organic system plan.

You can search for organic farms in the USDA's organic integrity database, but smaller local farms sometimes simply can't afford the certification process. Organic certification is a complex process that requires farmers and companies to meet strict standards for cultivation, processing and handling of their products. While all organic farmers must follow the NOP guidelines, all organic farmers also have some operational freedom that allows them to employ a variety of techniques and practices, based on their own values and location-specific needs. By looking for the USDA Organic label when shopping for food on Oahu, you can be sure that what you're buying is truly certified as organically produced by a farm on the island. This way you can make informed decisions about what you're eating and support local farmers at the same time.

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