What Makes Food Organic & Where The Lines Get Drawn


in this episode

If you are like us, you probably try to buy and consume organic food whenever you can.  Sometimes it’s not available, sometimes it’s a bit too expensive, and sometimes you might just wonder, “what exactly makes food organic and where do those lines get drawn.”

You’re not alone, we have those questions as well.  Which is why we sat down with Jessica Shade from The Organic Center to answer all these pressing questions for us!  She’s the Director of Science Programs at The Organic Center, where she directs projects associated to communicating and conducting research related to organic agriculture.  Her full bio is below!

And a bit about The Organic Center.  Their mission is to bring together credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental impacts of organic food and farming and to share the findings with the public. The Center is an independent non-profit research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association. For more information on The Organic Center, visit www.organic-center.org, and on the Organic Trade Association, see www.ota.com.


1:00 Introduction

2:15 What is the Definition or Organic?

6:00 Organic vs. Non-Organic GMO

12:30 Meet Jessica

17:45 Why is Organic Food So Expensive?

25:10 Clarifying Usage of Synthetic Pesticides

32:30 Where Organic Standards Stand on Wild vs. Domestic Pollination Services

42:15 A Discussion Around Organic Livestock

59:00 How Organic Industry Views Cell-Based Meats & Vertical Crop Farming

Dr. Jessica Shade is the Director of Science Programs at The Organic Center where she directs projects associated with communicating and conducting research related to organic agriculture. During her tenure at The Organic Center Dr. Shade has collaborated on diverse research programs ranging from applied solutions to on-farm challenges to methods for improving environmental impacts of agriculture.  Some of her most recent collaborations include projects aimed at mitigating climate change, decreasing agriculturally-mediated nutritent pollution, increasing on-farm biodiversity, and developing integrated pest management solutions for organic growers.  Dr. Shade developed and leads the Center’s signature conference event, Organic Confluences, which brings together policy makers, researchers, farmers, industry members, and other non-profits to address and overcome challenges faced by the organic sector.  She has also been an invited speaker to a wide range of events including academic conferences, farmer meetings, industry expos, and TEDx.

Dr. Shade has been honored for her environmental accomplishments by the Audubon Women in Conservation through their Women Greening Food Special Recognition, the Ecological Society of America Student Section and Union of Concerned Scientists through their Ecoservice Award, and is a Switzer Environmental Fellow.  She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

If you want to email Jessica about her work: jshade@organic-center.org