Until the invention of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in the early 20th century, all farming worldwide was organic. Today, food is organic if it is produced without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, artificial ingredients, irradiation or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates organic food, and only food that has been produced, handled, and processed following USDA guidelines is given the USDA Organic seal of approval.
Producers who say they use organic methods but opt out of certification may exceed, meet, or fall short of the USDA guidelines. In these cases, ask the producer about the methods he or she uses.