Organic products are items produced via certain sustainable processes, as dictated by a government agency or other certifying authority. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which runs the U.S. National Organic Program, certified organic products "integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity."
The qualifications for USDA organic certification were established in the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. Only products with a green or black-and-white "USDA Organic" sticker are certified organic in the United States.
USDA organic products must be grown or produced without pesticides, synthetic fetilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. For U.S. animal products to be certified organic, the animals must be raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. American farmers and manufacturers must employ certain sustainable practices, and their farms and factories must be inspected and audited by certified government officials. (Source: NOP; photo: Flickr)