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Word Play

Just what does the widespread term 'organic' really mean?

By Christina Waters

ORGANIC IS A CATCH-ALL, shorthand term generally used to indicate that a foodstuff is "organically grown" or that a product is made with organically grown and processed ingredients.

"Organically grown" food is food that has been grown and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, colorings or radiation, according to the California Certified Organic Farmers, a consumer watchdog group that issues certification to complying facilities.

California Certified Organic Farmers certification means that a food has been grown in soil enriched solely with organic matter and rock minerals. California is one of the few states with a strict legal definition of "organically grown," based on standards established by the California Organic Food Act of 1980. Unfortunately, there is still no legal mechanism for enforcing this organic foods law.

Wines labeled as made from organically grown grapes must be made from produce grown without chemicals. Wines labeled as "organic" must go further and process those grapes without artificial--i.e., non-naturally occurring--additives.

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From the July 2-9, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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