How to read the labels of organic foods?

With the great boom in organic foods, people and companies have appeared that have wanted to take advantage and are selling food under the name of “organic food”, without these meeting the necessary requirements. Today in Life and Health, I want to answer some of the emails that have come from our readers about organic food. I will give you some tips so you can make better decisions when buying this type of food.

Every day more and more people decide to eat a healthier diet. Some choose to leave sweets, refined flours, lower saturated fats, and various foods that are harmful to their health. These decisions related to healthy eating are good for preventing cardiovascular problems, diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides. Other people, for their part, decide to stop eating red meat. Finally, there are those who decide on organic food: that is, they prefer pesticide-free foods, and some other chemicals that they think affect their health.

Are you thinking about getting into the wave of organic foods, but do not know what foods to buy? Do you wonder how you can be 100% sure that the foods you find in the supermarket meet the quality standards needed to be cataloged as organic foods?

If you live in the United States, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador or Honduras, I have good news for you. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture (USDA for its acronym in English) is the agency responsible for regulating and certifying processes related to the commercialization of organic foods. In Spain, it seeks certification from the European Union, which is a green rectangle with twelve stars that form the silhouette of a leaf. In Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Honduras, governmental norms for organic designation have also been implemented (look for the seal of the OIA). The other countries of Latin America have partial regulations or are in process. Here are the stamps:


Based on the recommendations of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), here are some tips.

Tips before buying organic food …

  1. That a food is classified as organic does not necessarily mean that it is always healthier or has more nutritional benefits. That has not yet been scientifically proven.
  2. Check the labels well. Prepared organic foods and other products can also have high levels of sodium, sugar, fat and calories.
  3. Organic foods must also be washed before they are consumed. Not because they are organic are they ready to be served at the table.

Advice when buying organic food …

  1. Check that the food packaging has the USDA seal, or its equivalent in your country. This seal guarantees that, in the case of prepared foods, at least 95% of the ingredients in the food have been produced organically.
  2. In the case of fruits and vegetables, the USDA seal guarantees that they are 100% organic foods.
  3. If you buy organic food from small producers, such as local farmers, who are not required to have a certification, I suggest you talk to them about the procedures they use for growing and production.
  4. There are several categories that can help you identify the different types of organic food:
    • Food with organic ingredients: in order for a food to be classified as such, it must guarantee that the production of at least 70% of its ingredients was carried out organically. Foods that have less than this percentage can not have the USDA stamp.
    • Organic: foods classified as 95% organic ingredients are trustworthy.
    • 100% organic food refers mainly to foods such as fruits and vegetables, that is, not to prepared foods.
  5. There are other words that are used to describe healthy foods that may confuse you. If you have found foods that say “natural” or “without hormones,” it does not mean they are organic foods. When you buy organic foods, you should clearly say “organic”.

I hope you now have a clearer idea of ​​what you should take into account when buying organic foods. Remember that if you can not or do not decide not to select organic foods, you can still take a nutritious diet buying healthy and fresh foods to have a health of 10 points.

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