Beyond the Barcode: The Local Food Revolution

BarCode

WHERE DOES YOUR FOOD COME FROM? WHAT DOES THE BARCODE ON THE LABEL STAND FOR? LET’S GO BEYOND THE BARCODE and dig a little deeper…

The bar code system works much like the zip code system.  The trouble is, there is no legal or specific definition of the word “organic.”  Frankly, the word drives us nuts.  The GREEN monsters want to use it as a glorified reference to HEALTHY, and nothing could be further from the truth.  So your “organic” bar code starting with 9 is probably info for the STORE, not a “smart” buying tip for you.

Bar code numbers on produce are more likely random, based on someone’s opinion (who thinks he is smarter than you)  but here is some popular wisdom:

North America
General designation is as follows:

Organic produce has a five-digit number beginning with a 9. Organic bananas, for example, would be given the designation of 94011.

Conventional produce has a four-digit number beginning with a 3 or 4. Therefore, the number on conventionally grown bananas would be 4011.

Genetically engineered produce also has a five-digit number on the label and begins with an 8. Again, the number on genetically altered bananas would be 84011.

Organic” means that only 95% of the ingredients must be organic, leaving the remaining 5% open to “allowable” substances from the USDA’s National List of Allowed substances and include such things as:

  • Synthetic substances allowed in organic crop production.
  • Synthetic inert ingredients as classified by the EPA for use with non-synthetic substances or synthetic substances used as an active allowed crop or livestock pesticide ingredient.
  • Non-synthetic substances prohibited for use in organic crop, livestock production and processing.
  • Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic livestock production.
  • Nonagricultural (non-organic) (both non-synthetic and synthetic) substances allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)).”
  • Non-organically produced agricultural products allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as organic or made with organic ingredients.

“Made with organic ingredients” means that only 70% of the ingredients have to be organic. The other 30% contain non-organic ingredients and synthetic substances normally allowed in conventional food and fiber production. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients have to list only the organic ingredients on the ingredient panel rather than the primary panel.

We found this great article by Michael Pollan, printed at bioneers.org, a great informative site for all questions you may have pertaining to your food. The link to the article is here: http://www.bioneers.org/programs/food-farming-1/articles-interviews/beyond-the-barcode-the-local-food-revolution

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