How to make sense of organic food labeling?
The simplest thing to look for is the USDA Organic seal that indicates a food was grown and processed according to the standards of the National Organic Program at the United States Department of Agriculture. You can also look for details about what organization has certified a food as organic.
If a food in the grocery story contains at least 70% organic food ingredients, it must list those specific ingredients on the label in order to make any sort of "made with" claim about organic ingredients.
Or, on a local level, you can talk with your farmer, since those growing less than $5,000 of organic food each year are not required to carry the USDA Organic seal.
Why consider organic? Some look to information from health groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics that has made recommendations about reducing pesticide exposure in children because of potential health effects.
Environmental Health Perspectives published a study of how just a few days of switching from a convention to organic diet reduced pesticide exposure in children.
What if you can't afford to buy all organic? The
Environmental Working Group's shopper's guide to pesticides in produce shares results of scientific surveys each year that show which foods tend to carry the most and least pesticide residue. So, they offer a guide for consumers to make choices about what to purchase as organic and what to purchase as conventional.
The top foods that the EWG report shows carry the highest pesticide loads per its 2016 study are:
The top foods in the EWG Clean 15 group that seemed to carry the lowest pesticide load were: