What Is Organic?

Organic radishes held in a farmer’s hands.
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Organic means produce and other organic ingredients in retail products are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.

An organic production system is managed to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.

Companies that handle or process organic food before it reaches grocery store shelves or restaurant kitchens must also be certified. Organic handlers cook, bake, mix, extract, freeze, package, process or otherwise modify raw organic materials. These handlers protect the food from contact with prohibited substances and from commingling with nonorganic products.

Food products that are certified organic by QAI have been verified to meet strictly defined standards issued by national and international standards issuing bodies, such as the USDA, or other independent agencies.