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What is an Organic?

Organic |ôrˈganik| adjective
1. of, relating to, or derived from living matter : organic soils.
• Chemistry of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin. Compare with inorganic.
• (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
2. Physiology of or relating to a bodily organ or organs.
• Medicine (of a disease) affecting the structure of an organ.
3. denoting a relation between elements of something such that they fit together harmoniously as necessary parts of a whole : the organic unity of the integral work of art.
• characterized by continuous or natural development : companies expand as much by acquisition as by organic growth.

DERIVATIVES: Organically |-ik(ə)lē| adverb
ORIGIN late Middle English : via Latin from Greek organikos ‘relating to an organ or instrument.’

Thesaurus: Organic (adjective)
1. organic matter living, live, animate, biological, biotic.
2. organic vegetables pesticide-free, additive-free, natural.
3. the love scenes were an organic part of the drama essential, fundamental, integral, intrinsic, vital, indispensable, inherent.
4. a society is an organic whole structured, organized, coherent, integrated, coordinated, ordered, harmonious.


Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods of organic farming - that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives. The organic farming movement arose in the 1940s in response to the industrialization of agriculture known as the Green Revolution. Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry, distinct from private gardening. Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic within their borders. In the context of these regulations, organic food is food produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations.

Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, [food] processors, retailers and restaurants.

Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:

  • no human sewage sludge fertilizer used in cultivation of plants or feed of animals
  • avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc.), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
  • use of farmland that has been free from prohibited synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
  • keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
  • maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
  • undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers.


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