Read up on what it really means to be certified organic. In the US, a farm or orchard has to only stop using chemical pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides for 3 years to become certified organic. However, the trees in the orchards may be over 50 years old, accumulating the chemicals used for all those years. Since we don't know what pesticides or herbicides were used during that time, or how long they last in the trees & soil, even buying organic produce may mean you're getting the residue of those older pesticides.
For example, DDT, formerly used as an insectide, but banned in the 1970s in the US, has a half life of around 30 years, but has still been found in human blood tests performed by the CDC in 2005. It causes thinning of bird egg shells, and has been cited as a cause for shrinking populations of wild birds in the US. Even in 2010, more than 40 years after the U.S. ban, California condors which feed on sea lions at Big Sur which in turn feed in the Palos Verdes Shelf area of the Montrose Chemical Superfund site seemed to be having continued thin-shell problems. So, it appears to work its way up through the food chain.
In the US, federal legislation defines three levels of organic foods.
Products made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods can be labeled "100% organic," while only products with at least 95% organic ingredients may be labeled "organic." Both of these categories may also display the USDA Organic seal. A third category, containing a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, can be labeled "made with organic ingredients," but may not display the USDA Organic seal. In addition, products may also display the logo of the certification body that approved them.
Also, small farmers, selling less than $5,000 a year, do not have to apply for organic certification, although they still have to keep records and may be subject to audits.
- 4/9/2013 3:46:42 PM