Organic carrots from digiyesica on flickrTwo weeks ago I wrote about "natural" labeleling on food packages and provided some humorous examples. Well I'm a little tardy with Part 2, but I'm back to finish up with three brief thoughts about organic labeling. (Again, these are merely snippets from a recent school paper.)
1. "Organics" defined
For a quick refresher: "Organic" encompasses the growing, harvesting, and production practices of a food or animal. The USDA's National Organic Program states that organic production excludes conventional pesticides and fertilizers, and animals cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. A full list of prohibited substances can be found here.
Organics in Europe? Yup, here's the scoop. By July 1, 2010 all organic foods in the European Union will have to be labeled with this new organics logo. If interested, check out the EU press release from February 2010.
New European Union organic label.2. Natural vs. Organic. Which is better?
Well folks, I don't think I have a clear-cut answer for this one. From a regulatory standpoint, "organic" labeling is more reliable since it must comply to USDA's National Organic Program standards. "Natural" has no USDA regulations, so proceed with caution and common sense. Like I said last time, neither "organic" nor "natural' is an automatic stamp for healthfulness. The ultimate value of a food should be judged by its ingredients, nutrition, and taste.
If you're interested: Labeling from the National Organic Program
3. A New Trend for "Clean" Food
Forget natural, and scrap organics. Last month The Hartman Group, a consumer research agency, released a report stating that Americans may be moving beyond "natural" and "organics" and demanding broader expectations of minimal processing. David Wright, a senior associate, commented
“A lot of consumers can end up disappointed when they look at the ingredient list…To consumers [natural] has been so overused from a marketing standpoint. [...] What we have seen consumers doing is making more considered choices. [...] Everything seems to be coalescing around this notion of ‘clean’."The report states that consumers expect healthy food and a whole lot more. "Natural" and "organic" may take a backseat as new labels such as "local," "whole," "fresh," and "nothing artificial" take the spotlight. So keep your eyes out; the sustainability movement is definitely hitting mainstream.
Source: "Exploring Expectations Beyond Natural and Organic." by Caroline Scott-Thomas from Food Navigator, April 2010.
- Janet Helm RD from Nutrition Unplugged (one of my all-time favorite nutrition blogs) just posted about the organic "health halo" and overeating. Please check out her fabulous post: The Appealing Allure of an Organic Label.
- Today Time Magazine posted several articles on the related topic of front of package labeling. Read up with Building a Better Label and Figuring Out Food Labels.