Certified organic foods are not grown with synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge. Organic crops are not genetically engineered or irradiated. Animals eat only organically grown feed (without animal byproducts) and are not treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics. Animals have access to the outdoors, and ruminants (hoofed animals, including cows) have access to pasture.
The USDA works through 94 certifying agencies: CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers), OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association), Oregon Tilth, Quality Assurance International, and others.
The Dirty Dozen (fruits and vegetables most likely to have pesticide residues): strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes.
The Clean Fifteen (fruits and vegetables least likely to have pesticide residues): corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit.
Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on the food we eat.
Organic food is often fresher because it does not contain preservatives that make it last longer.
Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy.
Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts.
What fruits and vegetables are being served at your event?
Are they among the Dirty Dozen or the Clean Fifteen?
What meat and poultry are being served? What certifications have they received?