To understand what makes olive oil organic, it is important to know what makes any type of food organic. Organic is a term that can be found on all sorts of food labels, from meat and dairy products to fruits and vegetables to beverages and condiments. The best way to identify what makes something organic is to learn how an item achieves organic status.
Characteristics of Organic Foods
What does organic mean? While you might think the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) oversees organic food labels, it is the National Organic Program (NOP) enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that regulates the use of the tem of “organic.”
The FDA guidelines for food labeling and safety are separate from the USDA NOP requirements for a product to claim the title of organic.
According to the USDA: “USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.”
What Makes Olive Oil Organic?
A food item, including organic olive oil, must follow specific criteria in order to receive that official stamp of approval from the USDA NOP. Receiving an organic title is a process - a process that does not happen overnight.
In fact, the USDA states “produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest.” This means there is a full 36-month period of time to transition non-organic produce into produce that can use that USDA organic seal.
What are those prohibited substances organic produce must avoid? Organic farming cannot use most synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides that are commonly incorporated into non-organic farming practices. Furthermore, organic foods cannot be “grown or handled using genetically modified organisms, which the organic standards expressly prohibit.”
How to Identify Organic Products
Just like there are cases of mislabeled or fraudulent olive oil, there are cases of organic food fraud.
To become certified by the USDA, food products must pass a rigorous certification process. As the USDA explains: “Organic on-site inspections account for every component of the operation, including, but not limited to, seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, inputs, contamination and commingling risks and prevention, and record-keeping.”
But since it is impossible for consumers to verify this long list of requirements on their own, it is important to be aware of other indicators that can confirm what makes olive oil organic.
Differences Between Olive Oil and Organic Olive Oil
How can you tell the difference between olive oil and organic olive oil? It’s similar to how you identify the authenticity of your olive oil.
The big giveaway will be whether that USDA organic seal appears on the packaging or label. A certified organic olive oil that passed the USDA organic certification process is allowed to display the USDA organic seal.
Many consumers say they can taste a difference between organic and non-organic foods, especially products like meat and eggs. The same goes for organic olive oil, especially when compared to fraudulent olive oil that is combined with low-grade oils.
Olive oil should be packaged in a particular way. To maintain its freshness and quality, organic olive oil needs to be stored in a dark, opaque container. A brand that is serious about providing the best organic olive oil possible will value how their product is bottled.
Purchasing organic olive oil straight from the source is another way you can ensure you are buying authentic organic olive oil. When bought directly from estates or mills, you have a better chance that those producers are offering a genuine product.
Does It Matter if Olive Oil is Organic?
Although organic farming dates back to the 1940s, it did not take off in popularity until the early 2000s as consumers learned more about the benefits of eating organically and what makes something organic.
Every detail matters in the production of organic olive oil. Comparable to how there is a difference between extra virgin, virgin, or pure olive oils, there is a difference between traditional olive oil and organic olive oil.
Organic products promote better health. Due to the strict regulations that come with a USDA organic seal, organic products are free of synthetic pesticides, chemicals, and genetic modification, which means you don’t consume those harmful elements.
When you choose organic products, you support an environmentally-friendly farming process. Organic farming leads to better soil care, improved energy conservation, and less carbon emissions and pollution.
Quality and Taste
Organic olive oil is processed and prepared in such a way that surpasses the quality of other types of olive oil. The higher production standards result in an elevated flavor.
The Mayo Clinic reports: “Studies have shown small to moderate increases in some nutrients in organic produce. Organic produce may have more of certain antioxidants and types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties … The feeding requirements for organic farm animals (livestock) usually cause higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids … Omega-3 fatty acids — a kind of fat — are more heart healthy than other fats.”
The Arlotta Food Studio Commitment
Here at Arlotta Food Studio, we are committed to offering the best California organic olive oil. In fact, we only offer organic olive oils.
Our premium, extra virgin, first cold-pressed olive oils come in a variety of flavors, including:
Even the essential oils infused into Arlotta Food Studio's organic olive oils are extracted from organic fruits and vegetables. It’s part of our commitment to upholding the standards and practices that come with our official USDA organic seal.
When you think of what makes olive oil organic, you can think of the organic olive oils at Arlotta Food Studio.