Organic has particular significance to many members of the Davis population, such as LUGOD, who support free and organic software development. Collaboration on wikis has also been described as organic1.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives a number of definitions, among them the one most familiar to Davis Food Co-op shoppers:

Organic: (def. 8b) Of a method of farming or gardening: using no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals. Also designating a farmer or gardener utilizing such a method, or a farm on which the method is employed.

This definition, however, is not as useful as might be wished. In the context of food in the United States, "organic" means "adhering to the requirements of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (found in 7 U.S.C.A. § 6501-22) and the regulations (found in 7 C.F.R. Part 205) promulgated by the USDA through the National Organic Program ("NOP") under this act." in practical terms, that reduces to "The regulations prohibit the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge in organic production and handling. As a general rule, all natural (non-synthetic) substances are allowed in organic production and all synthetic substances are prohibited." (From )

More specifically, the regulations (see

  • prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms in organic production;
  • reflect NOSB recommendations concerning items on the national list of allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances;
  • prohibit antibiotics in organic meat and poultry; and
  • require 100% organic feed for organic livestock.

Some people believe that the "organic" label is misapplied by crafty marketers because they know it sells, and thus, that "organic" foods are not always organic. However, "As of October 2002, all agricultural products labeled 'organic' must be in compliance with U. S. organic law. The word 'organic' on U. S. products will mean that the ingredients and production methods have been verified by an accredited certification agency as meeting or exceeding USDA standards for organic production" ( Furthermore, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has its own Organic Program, "responsible for enforcement of the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the California Organic Products Act of 2003...protect[ing] consumers, producers, handlers, processors and retailers by establishment of standards under which fresh agricultural products/foods may be labeled and/or sold as 'organic'" with "The California Department of Public Health enforcing laws pertaining to processed products marketed as 'organic'" (from

Products labeled "100% Organic" and carrying the "USDA Organic" seal contain all organically produced ingredients. Products that are made from at least 95% organic ingredients, and have remaining ingredients that are approved for use in organic products may also carry the "USDA Organic" seal. In addition, products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients may label those on the ingredient listing. (From Note that the organic ingredients can be "unimportant" ones (crops which are hearty and don't require pesticides), as opposed to important ones. For instance, strawberries are typically cultivated with large quantities of pesticides, so organic strawberries are hard to find. Another label to look for is the California Certified Organic Farmers label.

The word "organic" is often encountered with the word "natural" which is unregulated and thus often misused. See Food/Natural.

Organic Food Sources

Other Organic Products & Organizations

Restaurants with Organic Offerings

From Woodland and the Surrounding Area


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2005-09-13 22:36:43   What isn't a chemical? Isn't everything a chemical? —NickSchmalenberger

Someone at the food co-op once tried to explain what was in "chemical-free" sunscreen... That was a laugh. -KJM

  • Was it organic mud? —hankim

2007-02-15 02:07:03   The best organic produce in Davis comes from my parents backyard! It rules having a plant PHD for a faja —StevenDaubert


1. AsynchronousCollaboration