“Local” and “Organic” Definitions
Debby Cannon, Ph.D., CHE
There are different parameters for the terms â€œlocally grownâ€ and â€œlocally produced.â€ Many consider â€œlocalâ€ to indicate products that are grown/produced within a radius of 150 miles of the point of consumption. In some situations, the distance is extended. For example, some types of seafood, to be considered â€œlocal,â€ would have to extend either to the Atlantic coast or Gulf of Mexico â€” extending beyond 250 miles.
The term â€œorganicâ€ is defined and regulated by the u.S. Department of Agriculture (uSDA). Organic foods are products grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. The uSDA also requires organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products to be produced from animals free of antibiotics or growth hormones. â€œNaturalâ€ attached to a product, on the other hand, indicates that there were no artificial flavorings, coloring or chemical preservatives and minimal processing.
The uSDA also regulates label standards for organic products. The label â€œ100% organic,â€ indicates just that: 100% of the ingredients are organic. The sole word, â€œorganic,â€ indicates that 95% of the ingredients are organic. Organic ingredients listed on the side label of a product indicate that less than 70% of the ingredients are organic. Companies that handle or process organic foods for public consumption are required to be certified by the uSDA through their Organic Seal designation.