Organic Labels

"Natural" and "Organic" -- the same thing?

No they are not! "Natural" means almost nothing.

Our good friends at Organic Valley explain it all.

There are three categories of Organic labels used to describe the organic content of the ingredients used in a product.

The Wedge sells 100% Organic Orange Juice; you've smelled it fresh squeezed from the Produce juicer as you enter the front door.

The Deli makes a number of Organic dishes sold in the Deli cases.

Some packaged products may be labeled "Made with organic ingredients." You need to look at the ingredients on the label to see how much organic product is in the container.

The three categories of organic labels are designed to give consumers as much information as possible about a product. They are especially helpful when it comes to processed foods like apple sauce, cereal, condiments, and canned goods.

Here's what they mean:

100% Organic: This is the strictest category of the USDA's National Organic Program. This label means the product is absolutely 100% Certified Organic. Look for this label when you're buying ingredients for home-cooked meals. Organic shoppers value this category for its integrity and for its faithfulness to the foundations of the organic food movement.

Whole, basic foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, tea, coffee, dairy products and meat most often carry the "100% Organic" label, but there are some processed, packaged foods that are 100% Organic too - the jewels in the middle of the store.

Organic: The "organic" label indicates the product contains 95-99% Certified Organic ingredients. The vast majority of organic foods at the Wedge fall in this category. Foods in this category are clearly labeled "Organic," and may have the USDA organic symbol on their packaging, but always say "Certified by" with the name of the certification organization. In the Wedge Deli, "Certified by MOSA" is on the weigh scale label. Be cautious about any food or personal care product company that uses the word "organic" to sell their product. If it really is Certified Organic, the Certifier will be on the label to guarantee the organic content.

"Made with... organic ingredients": Products can use this label if they contain 70 - 94% organic ingredients. It's sort of the "almost organic" category, but companies still have to be certified organic to use it, just like the above two categories. Then look at the list of ingredients to see what else is in the container. One thing to remember, the non-organic ingredients must be listed on the National Organic Program List of Approved Substances and the Certifier must be included on the label to guarantee the organic ingredients.

There is one more unofficial label; the one that doesn't make any claims but still has organic ingredients. Foods containing less than 70% organic ingredients can list their organic ingredients in the ingredient list, but the front label of the packaging cannot make any organic claim. Any company may list organic ingredients, but unless the product has been certified, no one but the food manufacturer is saying it is so. Buyer beware.

We hope this will help you navigate the world of organic food with a little more confidence. Never hesitate to ask our staff your questions about any product we sell. We are happy to tell you the whole story!