Certified by accredited agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program
Definition: Grown without the use of pesticides, hormones or antibiotics. Farming techniques simulate natural growing environments and include environmentally gentle pest control, livestock feed free of animal proteins, and no petroleum-based fertilizers.
Fine Print: Products labeled "100 percent organic" must be made from only organic ingredients; the term "organic" is for food containing 95 percent organic ingredients. Both may carry the organic seal. Foods with less than 70 percent organic ingredients may list the contents as organic but may not display the symbol.
Where to Find It: USDA-certified fresh produce, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry, dairy, eggs, and processed foods are available in conventional and natural products grocery stores.
Certified Naturally Grown
Nonprofit alternative eco-label program for small organic farms that are not part of the USDA Certified Organic program.
Definition: Follows the same certification guidelines as the USDA and is just as trustworthy. CNG is far less expensive than USDA certification, so small-budget farmers can afford it.
Fine Print: In addition to adhering to USDA rules, CNG randomly tests 10 percent of its members' products for pesticide residue to ensure the program's integrity.
Where to Find It: Fresh fruits and vegetables are sold at local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), farmer's markets, co-ops, small groceries, and restaurants that support local farmers.
Certifies farms as either biodynamic or in conversion to biodynamic
Definition: Biodynamic farming is considered the strictest certification standard. Farmers create a diverse sustainable ecosystem using organic growing methods and seasonal farming practices.
Fine Print: Certified biodynamic farmers are required to raise animals humanely, grow at least 80 percent of livestock food, prohibit animal byproducts in feed and produce their own fertilizers.
Where to Find It: Domestic and imported produce, wine, vinegar, spices, coffee, dairy, grains, bakery items, pasta and personal care items are available at natural products sotres.
No Friend of the Earth
It says it’s earth friendly, it looks farm friendly, but beware. This new food label is definitely not what it seems. The “Earth Friendly, Farm Friendly” food label— which depicts a farmer on a tractor superimposed over a globe—appears to be a good thing for environmentally concerned grocery shoppers. It’s not. The misleading seal belongs to the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues, which opposes organic agriculture, favors genetically modified food, and endorses crowded cow feedlots to “leave more room for nature.”