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A growing appreciation for organic foods

Georgia program gives teens a hands-on take on all-natural veggies

Organic farmers markets are becoming popular in cities where produce was previously available only in grocery stores  

January 5, 2001
Web posted at: 12:51 PM EST (1751 GMT)

In this story:

'My friends mostly eat junk food'


ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN Student Bureau) -- Many of today's teens have no clue about how vegetables are grown. But that is changing.

The organic food debate

When the label says '100 percent organic' or 'organic'

  • Product must contain only organically produced raw or processed material, excluding water and salt.
  • Product must be at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Remainder must be made up of nonagricultural substances or products approved on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National List.
  • Products meeting these requirements must display the terms on their principal display panel.
  • The USDA seal and the seal or mark of certifying agents may appear on packages and in advertisements.

    When the label says 'Made with Organic Ingredients'

  • Products must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. A list of up to three separate ingredients may be included on the principal display label.
  • A certifying agent's seal or mark may be used on the package; use of a USDA seal isprohibited.

    Other labeling provisions

  • Packaging of any product labeled organic must state the actual percentage of organic ingredients and use the word "organic" to modify each organically produced ingredient.
  • The name and address of the certifying agent must be displayed on the label's information panel.
  • No restrictions are made upon the use of truthful labelingclaims, such as "pesticide free," "no drugs or growth hormones used" or "sustainably harvested."
  • Products made with less than 50 percent organic ingredients may make no claim other than designating specific organic ingredients among information.

    Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program
    An organic farming program is helping young people understand where their food comes from, reports CNN's Nikolina Sajn

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    In the wake of an increasing marketing emphasis on healthy foods and organic varieties, some of these youths are putting down the candy and cheeseburgers and picking up veggies.

    Amy Garet, 14, belongs to a group of Atlanta teens who have learned to appreciate organic foods. Not only has Amy decided to eat healthier foods, but she's willing to get her hands dirty doing it. In the spring and after school in the summer, Amy grows vegetables.

    "I like it because you get to work with your hands, and you get to watch the stuff that you planted grow," Amy said. "You get the whole process: You put it in the ground, and then, the next thing you know, you get to pick it and eat it. It's neat."

    Amy is a participant in the Atlanta Community Food Bank's Garden for Youth, a program that teaches teens everything about growing organic food. Organic refers to the natural method in which foods can be grown; foods grown organically do not contain man-made additives. Instead, they rely on the Earth's natural resources.

    "You don't get the pesticides and the herbicides and all the chemicals that go into the food that you eventually eat," Amy said.

    'My friends mostly eat junk food'

    According to the Organic Farming Research Foundation, about 1 percent of the U.S. food supply is grown using organic methods. In 1996, this represented more than $3.5 billion in retail sales. The foundation said that over the past six years, sales of organic products have shown an annual increase of at least 20 percent.

    Organic farmer Skip Glover works with the Garden for Youth program. He said that most vegetables sold in stores are not organic. Products labeled "certified organic" have been grown and processed according to strict standards. "Organic food is food grown on an organic farm," Glover said. "The basis of organic food is the soil itself -- how you treat the soil, to let it be a living organism by itself. Most of the vegetables that you find in your market are conventionally grown through the use of chemicals and pesticides."

    Glover builds healthy soils through the use of cover crops, compost and other naturally occurring elements. The process can produce healthy plants that are better able to resist disease and insects. Organic farmers say they rely on a diverse population of soil organisms, insects, birds and other organisms to keep pests in check.

    One of the teen farmers, Hyron Williams, said growing organic food is a valuable experience.

    "My friends mostly eat junk food, like candy, Checkers, McDonald's, your fast food," said Hyron, 15. "They've never actually tasted orange juice without all the chemicals in it, the preservatives, the sugar that they add. They never had it natural, but I think when I get back to school I'm going to have a little change in that."

    Even if the Atlanta teens don't become farmers, Glover said, they will at least appreciate foods grown organically and naturally. And the program is a good investment for him -- he's molding students who understand the value of organic farming.

    "These kids are going to be your teachers and accountants or whatever, but the one thing they've got in common is they all are going to eat for the rest of their lives," Glover said.

    "From now on when they eat, they will know what it took to grow that food and it's not, it's not a small task to produce food. That's what I hope they take away with them."

    U.S. government to issue first standards on organic foods
    December 20, 2000
    Family farming
    October 24, 2000
    Government debates 'organic'
    June 9, 2000
    Former farms yield tainted yards
    July 18, 2000

    Organic Trade Association
    Organic Farming Research Foundation
    California Certified Organic Farmers
    U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Organic Program
    Organic Kitchen

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