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‘Organic’ rules a boon for chemical-free diets

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New labeling makes it easier to find foods grown without chemicals, according to the January issue of Consumer Reports on Health. Now, under U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, a product can be called "organic" only if at least 95 percent of the ingredients are certified organic, that is produced by a government-regulated system of environmentally conscious farming and animal husbandry that's free of genetic engineering, irradiation, antibiotics, animal byproducts, and most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

That means that a product labeled "organic" has been verified and certified. That's different, though, than saying "made with organic ingredients," which could mean the product has as little as 70 percent organic ingredients.

It's not known if organic foods offer a nutritional advantage, but the Consumer Reports said its testing shows that organic fruits and vegetables have lower pesticide residues. And, it adds, "it's also a way to do something to protect the environment."