As a legal and marketing term, it means certified organic. The distinction is important, as the two definitions can represent quite different products.
Types of Organic Food
Organic foods, like food in general, can be grouped into two categories, fresh and processed, based on production methods, availability and consumer perception.
Fresh food is seasonal and highly perishable. Fresh produce — vegetables and fruits — is the most available type of organic food, and closely associated with organic farming. It is often purchased directly from the growers, at farmers' markets, from on-farm stands, through specialty food stores, and through community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects.
Unprocessed animal products — organic meat, eggs, dairy — are less common. Prices are significantly higher than for conventional food, and availability is lower. They are still premium priced items.
- Produced without synthetic chemicals (eg: fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones)
- free of genetically modified organisms
- (often, but not necessarily) locally grown
For processed organic food, the general definition is:
- Contains only (or at least a certain specified percentage of) organic ingredients
- Contains no artificial food additives
- Processed without artificial methods, materials and conditions (eg: no chemical ripening, no food irradiation)