Organic vs. Natural


Why Organic?

At the Co-op we believe that organically-grown food is better for our bodies, our environment and our communities.

Organic produce is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, chemicals, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism’s), fertilizers and other products linked to health issues and environmental degradation.

Organic growers use renewable resources and sustainable growing methods, including soil building, conservation, manure management and crop rotation. They also protect soil sustainability (by preventing erosion and contributing to natural fertilization), respect the water quality (by not adding chemical herbicides and pesticides to the water), and contribute to conservation and biodiversity (by encouraging the existence of multiple species of plants and animals).

When it comes to your meat and eggs, organic agricultural practices promote humane and sustainable growing methods that nurture the soil, crops and animals providing products that are free of growth hormones and antibiotics.

If you consider all of the social and health benefits of organic products, it’s no surprise that the organic foods industry is seeing remarkable growth in recent years. According to the National Cooperative Grocer’s Association, the organic food industry has grown between 15 and 20 percent every year since 1998.

All foods labeled and sold as “Organic” must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) accredited independent certifying agencies. Organic foods meet all of the government safety standards that other foods must meet, plus the requirements outlined for organic certification.


The USDA Organic Foods Production Act identifies organic farming and certified products as follows:

  • Three years with no application of prohibited materials (no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or GMOs) prior to certification;
  • No use of prohibited substances while certified; no sewage sludge; no irradiation;
  • Proactive soil building, conservation, manure management, and crop rotation systems;
  • Mandatory outdoor access for livestock, access to pasture for ruminants;
  • No antibiotics or hormones used;
  • 100 percent organic feed;
  • Organic management from birth or hatching; and
  • No commingling or contamination of organic products during processing, and mandatory record keeping for all operations

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines ORGANIC as follows:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.