I love how our industry has evolved to offer the consumer a vast array of choices in the produce department!  However, because there are so many wholesome choices – there is a need to discuss the different classifications of fruits & vegetables.  Know that when you are choosing Fruits & Veggies… you are making an EXCELLENT choice!

Today we’re talking about Organics.  I’ve enlisted the help of Indy Fruit’s trusted partner & organic food vendor, Earthbound Farm.  I have a lot of the same questions you have & they were kind enough to answer them all!  We’ll be working with Earthbound throughout the year, so keep your eye out for future blogs, recipes & informational posts about their “Food to live by.”

Q:  What does “Organic” mean?

A:  Organic is a system of production and processing that assures consumers
that the products maintain the organic integrity that begins on the farm.
For produce, it means:

  • No synthetic pesticides or fertilizers
  • No genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • No irradiation (exposure to radiation)

Q:  How do I know a product is organic?

usda organic

A:

  • The USDA Organic Seal guarantees a product is certified organic by an independent agency accredited by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP).
  • All Earthbound Farm produce carries the USDA Organic Seal — our certifying agency is the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), accredited by the NOP.
  • The USDA Organic Seal can be used on products that are 100% organic, or 95% organic where the remaining 5% comprises ingredients that aren’t available organically and are specifically allowed under NOP regulations.  (The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances identifies substances that may and may not be used in organic crop and livestock production – view the List in its entirety via this webpage)
  • On bulk produce, a PLU code beginning with “9” indicates an organic item.

plu codes

Q:  Do I need to wash organic fruits and vegetables?

A:  “Wash all whole fruits & vegetables prior to eating.  Pre-washed salads have been thoroughly washed & are considered ready to eat.”

USDA FSIS

According to the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service – the current recommendations for safe food handling of fresh produce are as follows:

Before eating or preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, wash the produce under cold running tap water to remove any lingering dirt. This reduces bacteria that may be present. If there is a firm surface, such as on apples or potatoes, the surface can be scrubbed with a brush. Consumers should not wash fruits and vegetables with detergent or soap. These products are not approved or labeled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on foods. You could ingest residues from soap or detergent absorbed on the produce.

When preparing fruits and vegetables, cut away any damaged or bruised areas because bacteria that cause illness can thrive in those places. Immediately refrigerate any fresh-cut items such as salad or fruit for best quality and food safety.

Q:  Is Organic food better for you?

A:  “Organic produce is grown without toxic and persistent insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Eating organic is a good way to reduce your exposure to pesticide residues.”

There is no scientific evidence to prove that organic produce has a different nutritional content/value than non-organic produce.  There are nearly 40,000 studies and articles archived on the USDA website that explore this topic.  Feel free to check them out here.

Q:  Why does Organic cost more?

A:  “Organic product costs more to grow. Sustainable land management methods like cover cropping also add cost to the seasonal cycle, but they’re crucial to building the healthy organic soil that is the foundation of organic farming.  Since organic farmers can’t rely on a chemical quick fix, we make another big investment in human labor to protect organic crops from insects, plant diseases, weeds and other problems.”

A cool way to save money on your Organic food is to sign up for Earthbound Farm’s Organic Step Forward, a program that offers consumers simple daily steps for incorporating more organic into their lives via coupons, recipes, green living tips and interesting information.  Participants receive a daily email highlighting the day’s step and, over the course of a year, will receive at least $50 worth of coupons!  I love my daily Organic Step from Earthbound & I encourage each and everyone of you to sign up for this informative & free service!    More information about Organic Step Forward can be found on Earthbound’s Facebook Page.  Furthermore, Earthbound coupons are good on any & all Earthbound products.  In other words – a coupon for Earthbound raisins can be used on Earthbound salad and vice versa.

I value Earthbound Farm’s dedication to Organic farming,  the environment, and consumers.  They truly are “Food to live by.”  Also, congratulations to my facebook fan Rebeca Holloway for her winning entry to our Earthbound Photo Contest!  Rebeca wins a year’s worth of coupons from Earthbound Farm!  Congrats, girl!!!!  If you aren’t following me on Facebook — what are ya waiting for?  In addition to all the great info & wit that I share on a daily basis, you can expect contests & giveaways from my produce industry BFFs every month!  Join the party!

xoxo Produce Mom

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