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September 1, 2009

What is organic?

The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat.  Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.  Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don't use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease.  For example, rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay. 

Here are other differences between conventional farming and organic farming:

conventional - Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.
organic - Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.

conventional - Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease.
organic - Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce, pests and disease.

conventional - Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds.
organic - Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.

conventional - Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.
organic - Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors.  Use preventive measures - such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing - to help minimize disease.

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