The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: O


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Refers to a system of cultivation and food production. In theory, organic food production is based on principles that increase soil fertility and encourage the health of plants, animals, and people. Organic foods are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; they are processed without irradiation, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. Genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) are not allowed in certified organic foods.

There are several tiers of organic. Foods that claim to be “100% Organic” must contain only organic ingredients. These may display the green-and-white circular seal with the words “USDA ORGANIC” and must identify the certifying agent. Next, there are “Organic” foods. These may also display the USDA’s green-and-white seal and must list the organic certifier. For a food to be certified organic, at least 95% of the ingredients must be grown organically; the remaining 5% may be non-organically-produced agricultural products or synthetic substances that have the USDA’s approval for use in organic foods. A food labeled “Made With Organic Ingredients” must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, and the ingredient list must specify which ingredients are organic. These products may not display the USDA’s green-and-white seal.

The world of organics is one of great controversy. There is a belief among many farmers and food producers that the USDA’s organic regulations lean much too heavily in favor of big agribusiness. Some farmers and producers who could be certified as organic choose not to be so, citing reasons such as expense (it is very expensive to be certified, and it must be done on an annual basis); those regulations that favor big business; and even the concept that they no longer regard the term “organic” as meaningful, because the standards are so diluted in some cases.


See Single Origin Cacao.

This glossary would not have been possible without the kind assistance of my good friend Karen Hochman who runs the website: The Nibble. Karen gave us permission to base our chocolate glossary on hers. TheNibble is one of the Internet’s best resources for food articles, reviews, history, and just about anything when it comes to quality food. Please, if you have a few moments, visit my friend Karen’s website and you’ll be amazed at what a valuable resource it is. Thanks for all your help Karen!

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