What does "organic" mean?

Or rather whose standards is it under? If I buy a cup of organic coffee, is it organic under the OCIA or under Costa Rica’s standards?

It’s organic under whosever’s standards they say it’s under. If they don’t say whose, then it’s organic under the standards of the guy who grew the coffee and decided he’d sell more if he called it organic. There’s very little regulation on what can be called organic.

It used to be true that anyone could use the “organic” label. Nowadays, the National Organic Program under the USDA regulates labeling. There’s basic information here and you can find more details here. Any food product sold in the US that claims to be “organic” has to be certified under these guidelines by specific certifying agencies that are approved by the government. If it says “natural”, however, you’re still on your own.

I know that word meanings change over time, but, this is one I hate. Organic means it is or was alive. Nothing we eat is inorganic… :rolleyes:

Details of British regulation, if you really want to bother: http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/organic/standards/index.htm

Would you like salt on that, sir?

A chemist would tell you that it actually refers to compounds containing carbon, but would be wrong in this context.

Even if it was grown in a different country where the term “organic” may have a different meaning?


Same as an item sold in the EU with the CE label must fulfill certain EU-specific regulations, no matter where it was made.

Mostly it means your going to pay an outrageous price for it.

This has a definition of organic food.