USDA Organic Rules
On February 12, 2012, the USDA announced amendments to its National Organic Program rules to allow “the use of four new substances in the production or processing of USDA organic products.”
The four new substances are:
- Microcrystalline cheesewax, used to hold moisture in logs growing organic mushrooms.
- Acidified sodium chlorite, used to sanitize food and food contact surfaces.
- Non-organic dried orange pulp (in multi-ingredient organic products), if organic orange pulp is not available in sufficient quantities.
- Non-organic Pacific kombu seaweed (in multi-ingredient organic products), if organic Pacific kombu seaweed is not available in sufficient quantities.
The new rules were recommended by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB); a citizen advisory board.
The synthetic substances in the list above are in addition to other synthetic substances the USDA has approved for use in organic production and processing.
Before you prepare your fruits and vegetables for consumption, you should wash them thoroughly.
If non-organic, they may have been covered in pesticides and herbicides during the growing process.
Organic doesn’t mean safe, it may merely mean safer than fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides. Don’t forget all the people who touched them from the time of harvesting to displaying at your local vendor – this means bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.
Washing doesn’t cure everything.
The following is a list of fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides even after washing: green beans, peaches, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, pears, apples, blueberries, cherries, collard greens, grapes and kale.
And this is a list of fruits and vegetables that contain the lowest levels of pesticides after washing: sweet corn, onions, pineapples, grapefruit, bananas, oranges, cauliflower, potatoes, winter squash, summer squash, broccoli and carrots.