Diabetic Health

Is choosing organic food best?

Organic potatoes.
Organic potatoes.

Whether you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes or you are on track to preventing Type 2 Diabetes you are, most likely are adding more (low-starch) vegetables and (low sugar) fruits to your daily diet. If you have diabetes, does it make sense to choose organic foods? It may. Understanding the dietary risk associated with fruits and vegetables and the surrounding pesticides and/or toxins the food has been exposed to, is important for all of us to know. 

First and foremost, learning how to read food labels allows you to know what natural and artificial ingredients are in foods. Organic foods must also meet certain standards of labeling. Understanding organic labeling will help you identify if those foods are right for you and your family.


According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic products have strict production and labeling requirements. Only products that have been certified as meeting the USDA’s requirements for organic production and handling may carry the USDA Organic Seal. Unless noted, organic products must meet the following criteria:

  • Organic foods are produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, irradiation, industrial solvents or chemical food additives.
  • Produced without excluded methods (e.g., genetic engineering), ionizing radiation or sewage sludge.
  • Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program- authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations. Produced per the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

"Certified Organic"

  • Products bearing this seal must be no less than 95 percent organic. Whereas, organic means that crops are grown without the use of prohibited substances, genetic engineering, radiation, or sewage sludge. Instead of conventional fertilizers, organic farmers must use crop rotation, tilling and natural composting to keep the soil fertile and plants fed.

“Made with Organic”

Multi-ingredient agricultural products in the “made with” category must meet these criteria:

  • At least 70 percent of the product must be certified organic ingredients (excluding salt and water).
  • May state “made with organic (insert up to three ingredients or ingredient categories).” Must not include USDA organic seal anywhere, represent finished product as organic, or state “made with organic ingredients.”
  • Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or another mark.

 “100% Organic”

Raw or processed agricultural products in the “100 percent organic” category must meet these criteria:

  • All ingredients must be certified organic.
  • Any processing aids must be organic.
  • Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.

Related terms:

  • Pesticide - the term “pesticide” means any substance which alone, in chemical combination, or in any formulation with one or more substances, is defined as a pesticide in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.).
  • Botanical pesticides - The term "botanical pesticides" means natural pesticides derived from plants.
  • Synthetic - The term "synthetic" means a substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from a naturally occurring plant, animal, or mineral sources, except that such term shall not apply to substances created by naturally occurring biological processes.

Regardless of whether you choose organic foods or not, Michigan State University Extension and food safety experts remind us to thoroughly wash all raw foods before peeling and or eating. For more information on healthy eating, and diabetic health visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/diabetes.

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