The definition of sustainable agriculture was given in the 1990 Farm Bill and further elaborated in USDA Special Reference Briefs Series no. SRB 99-02. Under that law, “the term sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
- satisfy human food and fiber needs
- enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
- make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
- sustain the economic viability of farm operations
- enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
The first place to go to obtain the official information on organic farming is the National Organic Program (NOP) that is operated under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). If you can only look at one item on this site, look at the master list of certified organic operations. This list will help you determine if your source of organic food is actually currently certified.
Other sources for information:
Do you find the labeling of food to be confusing? You are not alone. For a general background on what can be labeled organic and what to look for on a label to make sure that it is organic, start with this USDA site.