Organic Food – What Does it All Mean Anyway (Plus Yummy Earl of Bengal Cookie Recipe!)
“Organic” is simply confusing. Consumers don’t know what it means and when they see it, they don’t know whether to trust it. That being said, sales of organic food have been growing rapidly – in the double digits – since 2000. Total US organic food sales in 2008 were between $21-$23 million, or 3.6% of total food sales.
Below is some technical information to help clarify what “Organic” means, according to the USDA, to try to help make sense of it so you can make smart shopping decisions.
In the US, the USDA runs the National Organic Program (NOP). The USDA NOP was established by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 and develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. The program operates around the world through partner agencies of which there are 54 domestic agencies and 43 foreign agencies.
‘Organic’ is a labeling term for products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The key guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole. Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water.
Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. Producers are monitored yearly, to ensure they are adhering to the organic standards.
According to the USDA, there are 3 different levels of “organic-ness:”
- 100% Organic: Contains 100 percent organically produced ingredients, not counting added water and salt.
- Organic: Contain at least 95% organic ingredients, not counting added water and salt.
- Made with Organic Ingredients: Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, not counting added water and salt.
On the topic of tea, many people think that all tea is organic. Nope.
Only teas with the USDA symbol are organic. All others are produced using conventional farming methods.
(BTW, all Teatulia Teas are organic…) Learn more @ www.teatulia.com
Earl of Bengal Cookies
6 bags Teatulia Earl of Bengal Tea
2 cups All-purpose flour
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
1/2 cup Confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Water
1 cup Unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
Pulse together all dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized and then add the vanilla, water and butter.
Pulse together until the dough is formed. Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12 inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Chill both wrapped logs for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap dough logs (one at a time to keep cold and hard) and slice into disks about 1/3 inch thick.
Place cookies on parchment or foil lined baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake until edges are brown (10-12 minutes). Let cool for a moment and then transfer to wire racks. Enjoy!