Sponsored: What's behind the USDA Certified Organic designation?
QUESTION: When something is USDA certified organic does it mean the farmer doesn’t use pesticides on their crops or orchards?
ANSWER: This is not a yes/no answer. How farmers manage their crops depends on the crop, the climate, the land , and the pressures (rainfall, insects, weeds) during the growing season.
The National Organic Program issues the USDA organic seal that corresponds with specific guidelines for farmers and producers. Like many of their conventional farmer neighbors; farmers that comply with the National Organic Program focus first on prevention of weeds and insects.
For organic farmers in the National Organic Program, should those methods not be sufficient or effective they can only use specific non-synthetic pesticides that are approved by the National Organic Program:
“Biological or botanical substances or materials ….may be used only if preventative practices are not adequate to prevent or control pests, weeds or diseases.” (Source: www.extension.org/pages/18349/national-organic-program-summary#.VRBOpmc5BgV)
It is important to remember that many farmers may utilize organic methods but may not be certified organic.
To find out more about pesticides and fruits and vegetables please see www.SafeFruitsandVeggies.com and check out the pesticide calculator.
Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN
Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian