US Department of Agriculture

US Department of Agriculture

Q: What does organic mean?

A: The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) requires that crops labeled as organic are raised without the use of most conventional pesticides, petroleum or sewage-based fertilizers, or genetically engineered materials. There is also an emphasis on conservation and using renewable resources. Animal products must come from animals that have been fed organic feed, had access to the outdoors, and received neither antibiotics nor growth hormones.

Q: Is organic better for the environment?

A: Organic farmers must follow USDA (US Department of Agriculture) regulations for not contaminating crops, soil or water with plant nutrients, pathogens, heavy metals, synthetic residues or other inputs which have detrimental effects on environmental systems.

Q: What type of diet do chickens require?

A: Like humans, chickens need well-balanced diets that include sources of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. Carbohydrates are necessary in a chicken’s diet for the production of fat, heat and energy. Cereal grains and their by-products are the most common sources of carbohydrates in poultry diets. Protein is necessary for growth and repairs of body tissues, and can be sourced through meat scraps, fish meal, soybean meal, corn meal and hemp. Vitamins are necessary for health, growth, reproduction and the prevention of disease, and can be found in green grass and other forages as well as whole grains, wheat, corn and fish-based oils.

Q: What do cows eat?

A: Cows are ruminants, meaning they have four stomachs and end up breaking down and regurgitating their feed several times. Because of this, their bodies digest forages most efficiently, yet they are able to consume grains like corn or barley.

Q: How does the term “organic” apply to organic milk?

A: Organic milk means that everything that contributes to the health of a cow used for production must be certified organic. This includes feed, bedding and any supplements given to increase mineral and/or nutrient levels.