What do food labels really mean?
USDA’s National Organic Program regulates labeling requirements. Food labeled as organic must contain at least 95% organic ingredients with no synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, biotechnology, synthetic ingredients or irradiation used in production or processing of food.
Producers of organic food must submit their application to receive certification. Included in this application the grower must submit the type of operation, substance history for the past three years of operation, include organic products to grown, and raised. Farmers must also keep records for five years after they are certified and make all records available to the National Organic Program. There is also a fee associated with the process to become certified.
Certified Naturally Grown
Certified Naturally Grown denotes that same growing standards as those for organic. However, it is not certified by the National Organic Program of the USDA. The non-profit known by the name of Certified Naturally grown is non-government affiliated organization. Farmers act as the inspectors, and regulate farmers selling naturally grown food. While, some small farmers struggle with the organic certification process this is a free alternative to regulate wholesome harvests.
Free Range/ Cage Free
For all of whose love farm fresh food, we know the best omelette begins with happy hens! So what does this label really mean? This means that chickens cannot be contained and must be allowed to roam and forage freely over a large area of open land. Unfortunately, the USDA does not regulate this term heavily. Which means that animals can still be closely confined and keep the label “cage free”.
If you are interested in learning more check out https://www.farmaid.org or http://www.gcbl.org. To get a more home perspective stop by the Allegany Farmers Market and chat with your local farmers. You can find a farmers market near you on these days:
Country Club Mall Tuesdays 9:30 am – 1:00 pm
Downtown Cumberland Thursdays 9:30 am – 1:00 pm
Frostburg City Place Friday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Canal Place Saturday 9:30 am – 1:00 pm