Since the creation of the Pumpkin Seed Bar in 2017, Health Warrior has sourced as many organic ingredients as possible for our bars. In 2018, we found a new pumpkin seed source who farmed with organic and sustainable practices, and our bars earned the USDA Certified Organic seal. With this change, we understand you might have questions about what it means to eat organically. So, we asked registered dietitian Rebecca Lewis to answer some of the most common questions you might have.
What does it mean to be “USDA Certified Organic?”
Certified Organic ingredients are free from dyes, antibiotics, growth hormones, or steroids. They are grown without the use of genetic engineering, sewage sludge, petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers, or certain toxic herbicides and pesticides. They are processed without the use of industrial solvents or irradiation.
To carry the USDA Certified Organic Seal, products that are a combination of ingredients must have an ingredient list that contains no less than 95% certified organic ingredients (not counting water or salt). The remaining 5% of ingredients may only be foods processed with additives on an approved list.
Foods with the Certified Organic Seal must adhere to rigorous auditing for accuracy in labeling, along with food safety and handling to ensure the highest standards are met.
Is eating non-organic unhealthy?
No, a healthy diet would include fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, beans and whole grains, and lean protein – regardless of whether or not they are organic. In fact, with the average American only eating 9% of recommended amount of daily veggies and 12% of the recommended amount of daily fruit, it’s more critical than ever that Americans add more produce to their daily eating habits.
When discussing the health benefits of consuming certified organic ingredients, the research is not yet there to support increased density of vitamins and minerals. Yet, studies conducted by Stanford University have found increased levels of phenols (a cancer fighting compound also in green tea, red wine, and dark chocolate) that have antioxidant effects. However, the research clearly shows that there is a significant decrease in exposure to pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria when eating certified organic foods.
That said, certified organic IS significantly healthier for the ecosystem by promoting biodiversity, protecting wildlife, and reducing environmental impact. The regulations around how to grow and raise USDA Certified foods helps to conserve water and soil, rebuilds the soil quality, eliminates the needs for synthetic chemicals, preserves bee populations, and improves animal welfare standards.
Quick facts about USDA Organic Foods
- Be aware; some foods may contain the words organic but do not possess the USDA Certified Organic Seal. In this case, only some of the ingredients may be organic, but not enough to qualify the food for the Certified Organic Seal.
- Even products that claim “Made With Organic” do not qualify for the Certified Organic Seal. In this case, the mixed ingredient food item must contain an ingredient list with no less than 70% certified organic ingredients. The remaining 30% of ingredients may only be foods processed with additives on an approved list.
- Companies who make false claims about their product being organic when it does not meet USDA standards can be fined up to $11,000 for each violation.
Shop our new organic Pumpkin Seed Bars now!