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What Does Organic Biologique Mean?

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Organic is a pretty popular buzzword these days. To those of us that don’t buy organic, the idea of going out of your way and paying more for what are essentially the same potatoes seems absurd. Yet in an age of chemically-laden foods and genetically-modified corn, it’s no wonder that many are pining for the good ol’ days when food didn’t come with a series of potential long-term side-effects

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Everyone who is even remotely health or environmentally-conscious is either looking more closely at that particular section of their local food store or shopping at their local farmer’s market. If you are one of these people, you may have seen foods labeled with something called “Organic Biologique.” But what does this term mean, and how is it any different from foods labeled certified organic?

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What does organic mean?

An organic food or beverage is one that has neither been sprayed with pesticides nor genetically engineered or modified in any way. Organic foods are grown within the norms of best farming practices and then tested by third parties to ensure that no traces or chemical residues are found. Foods that pass these tests can then be labeled as organic or certified organic.

What does organic biologique mean?

If your grocery store ever carries produce from France, Canada, or another French-speaking country, an "organic biologique" label likely pops up from time to time. That's because biologique is French for organic — so when produce or food labeled "organic biologique," that just means the produce is organic. 

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Just like organic foods, organic biologique foods are defined as foods grown without the use of man-made chemicals or genetically-modified organisms. That food is then tested by third parties to verify that there are little to no pesticide residuals on it. 

Once this is established, the food can be labeled as organic biologique. Essentially, all this means is that the food is also organic. 

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Is organic biologique any different than organic?

It may seem like organic biologique foods are different in some way from other organic foods, simply by virtue of their fancy name, but that’s not really true. If you look at the definition, you’ll find that foods labeled as such are subject to the same testing as other organic-labeled foods.  

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Are organic biologique foods any more expensive than organic ones?

Anyone who has ever purchased organic food, or even done a side-by-side comparison with other non-organic foods, can see there is a difference in price. Most people who buy organic are aware of this premium and are willing to pay if it means they are eating food free from pesticides.

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Is the term organic biologique meant to be misleading?

By now, you might be thinking that the term organic biologique seems kind of sketchy. You aren’t wrong, as organic labels can be a bit misleading. Many farmers, producers, and corporations find themselves scrambling to meet the demand for organic food without having to alter any of their usual practices. What happens in these cases, is that the term organic becomes slightly diluted. 

As an example, products labeled “organic” in the U.S, can contain as much as 5 percent non-agricultural substances approved by the USDA. These approved substances are considered to be “not commercially available in organic form,” which makes one wonder, what are they and how do they impact your health and the environment?

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100 percent organic foods, on the other hand, must contain only organically produced ingredients and processing aids. In this case, the USDA seal should be somewhere on the packaging as must the certifying third-party agency that tested the product. 

It really pays to read labels and to know what the language on that label actually means. Different countries have different definitions of what constitutes organic, so imported organic food may be subject to different conditions than that which is raised, grown, or manufactured in the U.S.

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Why is it important to buy organic?

Those who live green or zero-waste lifestyles understand the importance of buying organic. Shopping organic is not only healthier for you, it’s healthier for the environment as well. It helps your community and it increases the demand for organic food all across the market. However, thanks to fake or misleading terms like organic biologique, it’s not always easy to weed out the real organic from the greenwashed organic.

The trick is being informed. The more you understand what the labels mean and what constitutes truly organic food, the less likely you are to be flim-flammed by corporations looking to take advantage of your good nature. 

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