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Organic 101: The Lifecycle of Organic Food Production

The NOP has published the fifth blog in the Organic 101 series: The Lifecycle of Organic Food Production. One of NOP's goals is to help audiences understand how comprehensive the organic standards and certification process are. To illustrate this, they created a "life cycle" story for their Organic 101 blog readers that examines the production process of organic cheddar from farm to retail.

From the NOP website:

This is the fifth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

Through defined farming practices, organic principles promote ecological balance, foster the cycling of resources, and conserve biodiversity. To understand what that means when it comes to the label on your food, those principles require some more explanation.

Let’s take a closer look at a snapshot of sustainable food production, using the lifecycle of organic cheddar to get a fuller picture.

Before it can be turned into cheese, organic milk must come from a certified organic cow. The organic cow cannot be given growth hormones or antibiotics, and its feed must be 100 percent organic. Organic feed comes from land not treated with any prohibited substances (e.g., synthetic fertilizers and most synthetic pesticides) for at least 3 years prior to harvest.  The land must be managed in a way that maintains soil fertility and minimizes erosion, while distinct and defined boundaries make sure prohibited substances don’t come into contact with organic fields. The animal grazes on organic pastures for the entire grazing season, which must be at least 120 days a year, and receives at least 30 percent of its nutrition from pasture during the grazing season.

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