As consumers plug into how and where their food is produced, organic foods have grown in popularity around the world. From 2000 to 2009, U.S. sales of organic foods and beverages jumped from $6 billion to $22 billion, according to Nutrition Business Journal estimates.

To be certified organic, foods and beverages must comply with a set of rules overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. These rules, which were rolled out in 2001, were created to support anagricultural and production system that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organically produced foods must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering sewage sludge and irradiation. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy must come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic foods are also minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation.

Products labeled “100% Organic” or that carry the “USDA Organic” seal contain all organically produced ingredients.  Products that are made from at least 95% organic ingredients and have remaining ingredients that are approved for use in organic products may also carry the USDA Organic logo. Products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients may label those on the ingredient listing but are not allowed to carry the USDA Organic seal. 

Organic certification covers more than just foods and beverages. Personal care products (such as shampoos or lotions), textiles and household cleaners can also be made with organic ingredients.