Expanding Regional Organic Purchasing: Health Care's Role in Promoting Sustainable Food Systems

The human and environmental health benefits of purchasing and serving organic food begin on the farm and extend to the consumer and beyond. The United States Department of Agriculture established its Organic Certification program to comply with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, and maintains rigorous standards for farmers who use its seal. Organic standards preserve the environment by regulating soil and water quality, livestock practices, allowable food additives, and pest management. Historically, the term “organic” has also referred to stewardship efforts that go beyond the organic standards; with farmers and ranchers often creating integrated farming systems that focus on preserving biodiversity and reducing climate impact.