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Organic Labeling and
the "National List"

Moving Forward

References and Resources

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Organic Labeling and the
      "National List"


As organic food becomes an increasingly common feature in grocery stores aross the country, it is important to take a closer look at what "organic" really means.  In spite of an economic recession that has impacted the sale of countless commodities in the U.S., organic food has proven to be a consistently expanding market.  The graph below shows the marked increase in organic sales between 1990 and 2006, a trend that has only continued in the past four years (Howard, 2006.)


Though there is no one driving force behind the growing organics market, the point stands that consumers and producers alike have become increasingly interested in seeing more organic products, whether produce, dairy, meat, or processed and packaged items made available in grocery stores across the United States (Consumer Reports, 2006).  The increased attention to organic practices and production represents an important shift in the food industry, one that promises a more sustainable future for food production in the U.S. (Gupta, 2008).  At the same time, however, increased interest represents a significant threat to the meaning of “organic” and the organic label overall (Gray, 2007).

The purpose of this website is to examine the organic food industry in the United States, how it came to be regulated, and ultimately to understand how recent changes to organic food legislation seriously threaten consumer choice, consumer safety, and the overall integrity of the organic label (Kindy, 2009).

This website will look in depth at the National List, one feature of the Organic Food Productions Act of 1990 that has become a significant point of contention in the past 5 years.  The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, while a significant resource for organic handlers and producers, is largely unknown to the growing number of consumers who invest in organic foods on a regular basis.  We’ll look at the origins of the list, its impact on organic labeling, and how consumers can learn more, know more, and do more to ensure that organic foods are better produced and better regulated.

USDA Organic Label

Image: United States Department of Agriculture Organic Label.

Organic Zucchini
Image: Zucchini with the USDA Organic Label.

Organic Labeled Cereal
 Image: Cereal with the USDA Organic Label.

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