Organic Foods or Bust back
We do not harp on too many things here at the Land of PureGold. But, one thing that is important to us is the quality of what we put into our bodies. That is why organic is so critical in our beliefs. We are  concerned about the nature of what our beloved dogs ingest, as they tend to gulp any and everything down before we even have a chance to snatch it back. That is why we are thrilled that there is a new dog toy line made from organic threads without the use of dyes. And, we always advocate buying organic foods and treats over that of non-organic, citing the justification below for our carrying Snook's Organic Sweet Potato Chews and Chips rather than their non-organic and less expensive competitors.


Although higher costs are the initial objection to going organic, people are essentially unaware of the critical differences between organic & non-organic products. In a March 2006 article on produce losing vitamins and minerals over the past 50 years, agriculture and nutrition tradeoffs are detailed. "The fruits and vegetables that our parents ate when they were growing up were more nutritious than the ones we'll serve our children tonight. As we have substituted chemical fertilizers, pesticides and monoculture farming for the natural cycling of nutrients and on-farm biodiversity, we have lessened the nutritional value of our produce."

Non-organic fruits and vegetables are repeatedly sprayed and subjected to much pesticide. In fact, there are pesticides and chemical compounds commonly utilized to prolong shelf-life. When you eat non-organic sweet potatoes, you ingest the pesticide botran along with fungicides imazilil, benomyl, and thiabenzadole. These substances are cancer causing and sources of immune system damage. They cannot be removed by peeling and are used to allow longer shelf life, not fresher or safer food.

The shelf life for sweet potatoes, because of the application of these harmful chemicals, is a huge 36 months. That means, the potatoes you could be buying are not only questionable with respect to toxicity, they are also lower in nutrients due to the amount of time they may be waiting for distribution. Organic sweet potatoes, which do not utilize such pesticides or fungicides, have a shelf life of only 9 months. Organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to be higher in nutrients, and many studies have clearly proven the case for organics. Organic produce tastes better and reduces pesticide exposure. Organic produce contains 30% higher levels of antioxidants and organic farming can cut mycotoxin risk by over 50%. [Further discussion of mycotoxins can be found here.]

Non-organic chemical farming methods, which can speed up growth rates, cause structural changes to the plant─the plant then containing more water. That means the plant will contain less nutrients. In other words when you buy organic produce you get more potato for your potato. Organic plants also contain10-15% more phenolics, defense compounds believed to be helpful in preventing diseases such as cancer.

Please be sure to check out our pages on organic basics and more. You never know, it could one day save yours or your dog's life.

    Organic Basics
Understanding Organic Labels
Organic Pet Foods
10 Reasons to go Organic
Organic Organizations, Resources and Articles



Learning the Organic Basics
Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones, are treated humanely, and given access to outdoors.
Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers, genetic engineering, or ionizing radiation (irradiation).
To be labeled organic, a USDA-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to be certain the producer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.
Companies that handle or process organic food before it goes to a retail store or restaurant must be inspected and certified.
Farmers with organic sales of no more than $5,000 annually need not be certified, but must comply with all standards as though certified.
Retail stores that do not engage in handling and processing foods are not required to be certified, but must comply with all standards as though certified.

Organic Standards Prohibit
1. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), seeds or ingredients
2. Bio-solids (sewage sludge) and synthetic fertilizers
3. Synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides
4. Antibiotics or added growth hormones
5. Animal by-products in animal feed


USDA Organic SealUnderstanding Organic Labels 
Any food with a label that says "organic" must be certified by a certifying agency accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Furthermore, there are strict rules defining varying degrees of "organic."
The USDA organic seal — A voluntary label organic producers can choose to place on their products that meet the federal requirements for "100% Organic" or "Organic" labeling. It simply provides consumers another level of assurance of organic integrity.
100 Percent Organic — The product contains ONLY organically produced raw or processed material and may display the USDA Organic seal.
Organic — The product has 95% to 100% organic ingredients and may display the USDA Organic seal.
Made with Organic Ingredients — The product has 70% to 95% organic ingredients. The label may include the words "Made with (listing up to three organic ingredients)" on the front panel or main label. The label may not display the USDA Organic seal.
Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may only list the organic ingredients on the ingredient label, not on the front panel, and may not display the USDA Organic seal.

More about Labels
Each organically produced ingredient in a product labeled organic must be listed and modified by the word "organic" in the ingredient panel.
Truthful labeling has no restrictions. Claims such as "no chemical pesticides used" or "no growth hormones used" are acceptable and encouraged.
The appearance of the USDA organic seal will phase in as old food labels run out of stock & manufacturers start using new ones.
All products that use organic ingredients must provide the name & address of the USDA accredited certifier.


Organic Pet Foods 
Dishing Up Organic Pet Foods
By Elaine Lipson, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Volume XXVI/Number 3/p. 80, 84, March 1, 2005

High-end pet foods meet USDA standards for organic human foods
Diet affects health. That premise leads many humans to choose organic foods, produced without pesticides and chemicals and with safer environmental practices than conventional foods. Now pet owners want the same benefits in the foods they buy for beloved dogs and cats, and manufacturers are answering the call with foods made not only with organic ingredients, but also with optimal nutritional profiles. With 377.8 million pets in the United States, total estimated sales of pet foods came to $14.3 billion in 2004, according to the Greenwich, Conn.-based American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. In 2003, organic pet food accounted for only about $14 million of that, according to the Organic Trade Association of Greenfield, Mass., but the brand-new category is growing fast; sales in 2003 increased 64.5 percent over 2002.

OTA forecasts an average annual growth rate of 17 percent from 2004 to 2008 in the organic pet food category. Yet some manufacturers of organic pet foods say they expect sales to double this year—and natural products retailers are likely to benefit from a new focus on these high-quality foods.

Where’s the beef?

Though most veterinarians say dogs do well on a diet in which meat is a main ingredient, and cats are obligate (true) carnivores, many commercial pet foods are composed primarily of low-cost grains. “The No. 1, now documented, problem with pet food, especially bagged pet food, is that it’s carbohydrate and carbohydrate-by-product-based,” says Martin Goldstein, DVM, a veterinarian in South Salem, N.Y., and the author of The Nature of Animal Healing (Random House, 2000). “Dogs and cats are true carnivores. They ate a minimal amount of carbs in nature.”

Critics of grain-based pet foods say that they contribute to animal obesity, which can lead to diabetes, general poor health, symptoms of food allergies, and even to rising cancer rates and shorter longevity in pets. But even pet foods made with meat may give you pause. Animals that are dead, dying, diseased or disabled—known as “4-D”—are used in many commercial pet foods, as are “meat-based” ingredients and “meat by-products” that include virtually all parts of the slaughtered animal.

Organic a step up

A number of “natural” and “holistic” pet food products have entered the marketplace, sold primarily at natural products stores and specialty pet shops, for shoppers troubled by both ingredient quality and formulations of commercial pet foods. The “natural” label is unregulated for these products, just as with human foods, leaving consumers to evaluate individual products for themselves.

But the advent of U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards in late 2002 opened the door for pet foods made with organic ingredients, giving pet owners the added comfort of regulated production standards (see sidebar, “Organic pet foods and USDA standards”). Encouraged by the standards, Brian Connolly and his wife, co-founders of Castor & Pollux, based in Portland, Ore., launched their Organix brand of dog and cat foods made with organic ingredients.

“We wanted a product that we felt gave pets the very best of nutrition,” Connolly says. “We wanted to go beyond a natural diet, and had been using some organic ingredients for about two years. There are a lot of natural or holistic pet foods, but it means so many different things to different people; but with organic, it means something. Prior [to USDA standards], there were products with just a whiff of organic ingredients, with ‘organic’ all over the label.” Organix Canine Formula uses organic chicken, barley, brown rice, flaxseeds, peas and soybean seeds. “The market we’re really targeting is where the pet is the child,” he says, and customers are “very concerned about quality, nutrition and know a great deal about how to read a pet food label.”

Savvy consumers

Peter Meehan, chief executive officer of Newman’s Own Organics, based in Aptos, Calif., has also been struck by how informed his customers are since the company launched Newman’s Own Organics Premium Pet Food, made with 70 percent organic ingredients. “They know their facts, and they want to know that we know our facts,” Meehan says. “There’s a lot to know in being a consumer for your pet. With that in mind, organic food isn’t grown with pesticides. We don’t use organic chicken in our dry food, but we use a chicken supplier [Bell & Evans] that uses no hormones, no antibiotics, a free-roaming situation and a vegetarian diet.” Newman’s Own Organics adheres to a “no wheat, no corn, no soy” doctrine to protect against allergies, and organic ingredients include brown rice, barley, milo, flaxseed meal, oats, carrots and potatoes.

As with all Newman’s Own products, after-tax profits go to charitable causes, and profits from pet foods go directly to animal-related organizations. “What we love, and what separates us too, is organic food—so if we can create another avenue of demand for organic farmers, and we can raise money for animal causes, from shelters to all sorts of preservation of land for wild animals, we really feel we can do some wonderful things,” Meehan says.

Nature’s Variety, a natural pet food division of M.I. Industries, makes Prairie Brand Organic Raw Diet for Dogs and Cats, a 95 percent organic, frozen, high-meat-content product, at its certified organic plant in Lincoln, Neb. “With the new USDA rules, we’ve been able to move in [the organic] direction,” says Scott Freeman, executive vice president for new product and new business development. “Ten [percent] to 15 percent of our e-mails are about the quality of our ingredients: Are they organic? How are the animals raised? That’s an indication to us that people are looking for these types of diets and that they care about them. We’re continuing to source raw ingredients because 10 [percent] to 15 percent of our business could be organic, and grow from there. As organic and natural foods grow, pet foods will too.” The biggest challenge, Freeman says, is sourcing enough certified organic meat.

The future for organic pets

Though there are significant price premiums for organic pet foods, demand is growing, fueled by the quality of the products and increasing awareness and education. At Castor & Pollux, Connolly plans new product introductions and retailer training seminars. He says he expects a doubling of the market this year. Similarly, Meehan at Newman’s Own Organics sees enormous potential among the 60 percent of natural foods consumers who have one or more pets. “Pets don’t make out shopping lists, so to be successful you have to influence the consumer [who isn’t eating the food] to make a decision. We are confident that we can win over consumers and their pets when given the opportunity.”

The raw and the cooked
Should pets be on a raw foods diet? Many experts believe that raw foods are the ideal choice for optimal pet health, and that a combination of cooked and raw foods is the next best thing. “The market for raw food has grown from almost nothing to 8 percent of pet owners, and it’s growing exponentially,” says Steve Brown, author of See Spot Live Longer (Creekobear Press, 2004). “The reason it’s growing is word of mouth, because it works. Allergies go away, diabetes is minimized, [as are] obesity and irritable bowel syndrome and flea problems.”

Critics of raw pet food diets cite the risk of food borne illnesses, but proponents say that pets’ digestive tracts are designed to withstand bacteria in raw foods. Martin Goldstein, DVM, a veterinarian in practice in South Salem, N.Y., and the author of The Nature of Animal Healing (Random House, 2000), says he has not seen problems from food borne bacteria in his practice. “A raw diet is what nature intended them to eat. Some animals won’t acclimate to it, but if they can, it’s what they should be eating,” he says.

Manufacturers are formulating raw frozen foods that can make up all or part of a pet’s diet, including organic options, such as Nature’s Variety. “Some homemade diets do not contain all the micronutrients, such as selenium, that are required,” Brown cautions. “It’s very important that we combine modern nutritional science with the natural diet of the dogs and cats and combine the best of both worlds.”

Organic pet foods and USDA standards

The USDA National Organic Program has not yet written a separate set of standards specific to pet food, according to James A. Riddle, endowed chair in agricultural systems at the University of Minnesota and a member of the National Organic Standards Board. In “Organic Pet Foods,” Riddle’s white paper on the proceedings of Pet Food Forum of March 2004, he writes: “The NOP has not engaged in rulemaking to establish specific pet food standards ... Because of this, certification of pet food is optional. However, if the word organic is used anywhere on a pet food label, the organic ingredient(s) must have been produced by certified operations, following all of the applicable requirements [of USDA standards for organic products]. If your company wants to seek certification, then the product composition and labeling provisions [of USDA standards] for the labeling categories of processed products apply to pet foods. For instance, if your product contains over 95 percent organic ingredients and approved nonagricultural substances on the National List, then you could receive certification and display the USDA Organic logo on your product’s front panel.”

The Organic Trade Association has recommended, as a guiding principle, that “organic pet foods should meet human food standards, with the exception that synthetic forms of nutrients required for various species should be allowed.” See for more information.

Elaine Lipson ( is a Boulder, Colo.-based writer and editor.



10 Reasons to Go Organic 
We have tried to go organic more and more here t the Land of PureGold Foundation. For those folks trying to decide, here are 10 very important reasons why to go organic.

1. Organic Products Meet Stringent Standards—Keeping Chemicals off your Plate
Organic certification is the public’s assurance that specific products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without persistent toxic chemical inputs. The EPA considers 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides and 30% of all insecticides to be carcinogenic. Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms, and therefore can harm humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides have been implicated in birth defects, nerve damage, and genetic mutation.

2. Organic Food Tastes Better
Well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals. Many chefs actually use organic foods in their recipes because they taste better. Organic farming nourishes the soil, which nourishes the plant, and then ultimately nourishes our bodies. In contrast, industrial farming creates produce for uniformity, ease of shipping, and cosmetic appearance, not that of flavor.

3. Organic Production Reduces Health Risks and Protects Future Generations
Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is one way to prevent more of these chemicals from getting into the air, earth and water that sustain us. Children receive four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. In other words, the food choices you make now will impact your child's health in the future.

4. Organic Farms Respect our Water Resources & Protect its Quality
The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, helps to protect and conserve water resources. The EPA estimates that pesticides (some cancer causing) contaminate the groundwater in 38 states. And, they pollute the primary source of drinking water for more than 50% of the country's population. However, organic practices eliminate polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching.

5. Organic Farmers Build Healthy Soil and Prevent Soil Erosion
Soil is the very foundation of the food chain. The primary focus of organic farming is to use practices that build healthy soils. Healthy, nutrient-rich topsoil is the foundation of organic farming and the farmer's greatest ally. In conventional farming, soil is merely used to hold plants up so that they can then be chemically fertilized. Sadly, conventional American farms are suffering from the worst topsoil erosion in history.

6. Organic Farmers, Leaders in Innovative Research, Work in Harmony with Nature
Organic agricultural respects the balance demanded of a healthy ecosystem. In other words, wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fence rows, wetlands, and other natural areas. Organic farmers have actually led the way, largely at their own expense, with innovative on-farm research aimed at reducing pesticide use and minimizing agriculture’s impact on the environment.

7. Organic Farmers Save Energy and Support a True Economy
Conventional farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry (greater than 12% of the nation's energy supply). However, organic farming relies primarily on labor-intensive practices such as hand weeding, using green manures and crop covers, rather than synthetic fertilizers to build up soil. While organic foods seem more expensive, conventional food prices do not reflect those hidden costs borne by taxpayers in federal subsidies. Furthermore, other hidden costs include pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal and clean-up, and environmental damage.

8. Organic Producers Strive to Preserve Biodiversity
The loss of a large variety of species (biodiversity) is one of our most pressing environmental concerns. The good news is that many organic farmers and gardeners have been collecting and preserving seeds, and growing unusual varieties for decades. They have also refrained from mono-cropping, which is the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop year after year. The lack of natural diversity (including crop rotation) leaves the soil depleted of natural minerals and nutrients. This system then relies more on pesticides while creating insects genetically resistant to certain pesticides.

9. Organic Farming Helps Keep Rural Communities Healthy
The USDA reported that in 1997, half of U.S. farm production came from only 2% of farms. It was estimated that by the year 2000, that half of the U.S. farm production would come from only one percent of farms. It is estimated that the U.S. has lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can command fair prices for crops. And, value-added premium pricing enables many small family farms to thrive.

10. There is an Organic Abundance—Foods & Non-Foods Alike
Every food category has an organic alternative. And, non-food agricultural products are being grown organically—even cotton, which experts felt could not be grown this way.


Organic Organizations, Resources and Articles
  Organic Center for Education and Promotion
  Organic Consumers Association
  Organic Farming Research Foundation
  Organic Trade Association
  National Organic Standards Board Definition of Organic
Benefits of Organic
  Nutritional Considerations
  Organic Farming Reverses Global Warming (The Rodale Institute)
  Organic Pet Food Gets Paws Up (By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY)
  The Organic Authority – Top Five Benefits of Natural Organic Pet Food for Your Dog
  Natural vs. Organic Pet Foods
  The Global Environment: Wide Reaching Organic Effects
  Protecting the Next Generation
  Why Buy Organic Dairy Products?

  Mail Order Sources of Organic Products
  Organic Children's Products
  Find an Organic Retailer
  Find an Organic Farmer

 Grocery Store Wars: The Adventures of Cuke Skywalker & Princess Lettuce