Identifying “Organic” at the Store

by Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
Clinical Nutrition Manager

Below is Part 3 in a series of posts about Organic Foods.
Click here to see Part 1 and Part 2.

As the popularity and demand for organic foods grows, grocery stores and other retailers have taken steps to help you, the consumer, identify their organic (and natural) offerings. Remember that foods can be labeled “organic” if they meet the USDA’s definition of organic. “Natural” can be used on a label and implies minimally processed but there is no legal definition.

Here is what you will find at stores in our local market.

Bi-Lo® uses a nutrition tag to identify organic products for its customers. It looks like this:

Bi-Lo uses many nutrition tags on their shelves, for more information, click here.

In line with their mission, Earth Fare® provides a wide variety of natural and organic products and produce. They do not have a shelf labeling system to help the shopper key in on organic products, but labels and signage clearly indicate if the product is organic, hormone-free, etc. Check store for details.

Food Lion® has its own line of earth friendly products called Nature’s Place. Some of the products in this line are “all natural” and some are “organic” so the green and white USDA organic label needs to be your guide. Food Lion does not use a shelf labeling system.

The Fresh Market® has a growing line of organic produce and use locally grown or produced products. They use symbols to help the shopper identify if a product is locally grown.

This symbol is used to indicate that the produce grown much closer to you than the produce industry’s current main harvest region.

This symbol represents food grown within 100 miles of the store.

Neither symbol represents organic. Organic is identified separately. Fresh Market sells antibiotic free chicken, turkey, and lamb.

Kroger® has a Naturally Prepared brand in their Natural Foods Department. Some items will be labeled natural and some will be organic. So, again, look for the USDA organic seal on the Naturally Prepared, as well as, other organic brands they offer. Kroger also offers organic varieties of their Private Selection brand throughout the store. They do not use a shelf labeling system to identify organic foods.

Publix® uses a color coded shelf labeling system to assist the shopper in identifying all natural, organic, and items made with organic ingredients.

The shelf labels are brown with the organic seal. Brown shelf labels with no seal indicate all-natural or earth friendly. Brown with a “made with organic ingredients” seal indicates the food contains 70% organic ingredients. Many of Publix’s Greenwise® brand products are organic but not all so check the shelf label for guidance.

Piggly-Wiggly®, Target® and Wal-Mart® sell many of the same organic products you will find in other grocery stores. Target also sells organic fair trade coffee and organic eggs under their Archer’s Farm® brand.

So, as you can see, there are many options and approaches that grocery stores and other retailers are taking to assist you in your food choices.

I think the best rule to live by is “buyer be WISE”.

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