- What is organic?
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic goods are produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic”, a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, as well.
- What does “certified organic” mean?
"Certified Organic" means the item has been grown according to strict uniform standards that are verified by independent state or private organizations. Certification includes inspections of farm fields and processing facilities, detailed record keeping, and periodic testing of soil and water to ensure that growers and handlers are meeting the standards which have been set.
- Are “natural” and “organic” the same thing?
According to the USDA, “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable terms. “Natural” is simply defined as “minimally processed” and no added artificial ingredients. Only food labeled “organic” has been certified as meeting USDA organic standards. While other truthful claims such as “natural”, “free-range” and “hormone-free” can still appear on food labels, these terms should not be confused with “organic.”
- How can I tell if products are organic?
In order to tell if products are organic, you need to look at package labels and watch for signs in the supermarket. Along with the National Organic Standards, the USDA has developed strict labeling rules to help consumers know the exact organic content of the food they buy. Products that adhere to these standards are permitted to carry the USDA organic seal on their package. The USDA organic seal tells you that product is at least 95% organic .
There are 4 labeling categories for organic products:
USDA Seal onfront of package
Organic claim onfront of package
100% organic ingredients
>95% organic ingredients
>70% organic ingredients
“Made with organic ingredients”
<70% organic ingredients
Can list organically produced ingredients on side panel of package
- What are the benefits of organic?
Organic agriculture protects the health of people and the planet by reducing the overall exposure to harmful chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, and that are associated with health consequences. Because organic agriculture doesn't use harmful pesticides, choosing organic products is an easy way to help protect yourself and your family.
- Are organic foods safer than non-organic foods?
The USDA makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food. Organic food differs from conventionally produced food in the way it is grown, handled and processed.
- What do the National Organic Standards mean for consumers?
Passage of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990 created the U.S. National Organic Standards. The National Organic Program (NOP) of the Agricultural Marketing Service, United States Department of Agricultural (USDA), is authorized to enforce OFPA.
Since the National Organic Standards were fully implemented in October 2002, all agricultural products labeled "organic" must be in compliance with U.S. organic law. The word "organic" on U.S. products means that the ingredients and production methods have been verified by an accredited certification agency as meeting or exceeding USDA standards for organic production. In short, consumers will have the assurance that products labeled "organic" have been produced in compliance with the standards set forth by the USDA.
- Are organic foods better for me and my family than non-organic foods?
There is no conclusive evidence at this time to suggest that organically produced foods are more nutritious. Rather, organic foods and fiber are spared the application of harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers. Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. In the long run, organic farming techniques provide a safer, more sustainable environment for everyone.
- What is organic meat?
Organic meat is meat that is raised according to the National Organic Standards which means that:
No antibiotics, no hormones or most synthetic pesticides were used in its production
Animals are fed 100% certified organic pasture or feed
Animal feed does not include contain any animal by-products
Animal feed does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
The livestock is produced on certified organic farms that are inspected and certified annually by the USDA
Livestock is given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture
Meat is processed at certified organic processing plants that are inspected and certified by the USDA
Finished products are minimally processed, and contain no added colors or preservatives
- How is “organic” meat different than “natural” or “conventional” meat?
When you buy meat labeled “organic” you can be sure that it was produced using the strictest organic production and handling standards in the world. The organic seal on the package is your “guarantee” that these standards have been followed.
According to the USDA, “natural” meat is defined as “meat that contains no artificial ingredients and that is minimally processed.” “Natural” or “All Natural” on a meat label in no way reflects how the animal was raised or what it was fed; “natural” means only that producers have added no colors or additives to the meat after processing.
The USDA does not have a specific definition for “conventional” meat.
- Why should I care about eating organic meat?
The guiding philosophy of organic production is to provide conditions that meet the needs and natural behavior of the animal. Thus, organic livestock are given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture, and are fed 100% organic feed.
In addition to animal welfare, organic agriculture also protects the health of people and the planet by reducing the overall exposure to harmful chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply.
- Why does organic meat cost more?
Organic meat typically does cost more than conventional or natural meat. The price for organic meat reflects the true cost of a production system that protects the health of animals and people.
Prices for organic foods reflect many of the same costs as conventional items in terms of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. Because organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all of these steps and farming tends to be on a smaller scale, the process is often more labor- and management-intensive. There is also mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of organic food production—cleanup of polluted water, replacement of eroded soils, costs of health care for farmers and their workers—were factored into the price of conventional food, organic foods would cost the same or, more likely, be less expensive.
Additionally, yields tend to be lower in organic meat production because animals are smaller (no growth promoting hormones are administered), organic feed is more expensive, and organic processing facilities are limited.
- What is the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed?
Some organic meat is produced using certified organic grain, while other organic meat is produced by allowing the livestock to feed on certified organic pastures. Some organic meat is produced using a combination of the two types of feed. Both certified organic feed and pasture are grown on land that has been free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for a minimum of three years.
In general, grass-fed meat is going to be leaner (lower fat content) than grain-fed meat and may have a slightly higher protein content.
- Are hormones used in organic meat production?
No, the National Organic Standards prohibit the use of hormones in the production of organic meat.
- Are antibiotics used in organic meat production?
No, the National Organic Standards prohibit the use of antibiotics in the production of organic meat.
- Are pesticides used in organic meat production?
No, the National Organic Standards specify that livestock feed used in the production of organic meat must be 100% certified organic, meaning that it cannot be grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
- Are preservatives or colors added to organic meat?
No, the National Organic Standards prohibit the use of added preservatives or colors in organic meat.
- Are GMOs (genetically modified organisms) used in organic meat production?
No, the National Organic Standards specify that livestock feed used in the production of organic meat cannot contain genetically modified organisms.
A GMO is "an organism that has been modified by the insertion of DNA by human intention. It is usually DNA which has been modified or ‘engineered' to suit a particular purpose.” GMOs are "made with techniques that alter the molecular or cell biology of an organism by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes."(National Organic Standards Board)
- Where can I buy organic meat?
Organic meat is increasingly available in grocery stores, natural food stores and club/warehouse stores. As consumer demand for organic meat increases, availability is also expected to increase.
- How do I know that organic meat is safe?
The organic production system provides traceability of each animal from birth to sale of the resulting meat. Each cut of organic meat can be traced back to its origin. If there were ever a question about the safety of an organic meat product, removal from the food supply would be swift and efficient.
- Are all Sommers Organic™ products Certified Organic?
Yes, all Sommers Organic™ products are Certified Organic according to the National Organic Standards and the regulations established by the USDA. Sommers Organic™ is also certified by Oregon Tilth, a non-profit research, education and certifying organization dedicated to biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture.
- What kinds of meat does Sommers Organic™ sell?
Sommers Organic™ sells a full range of different meats to satisfy all tastes including organic beef, organic pork, organic chicken and organic turkey.
- Do you only sell fresh meat?
No, Sommers Organic ™ sells a variety of meats in a variety of forms including:
Fresh meat: 100% certified organic beef, pork, chicken and turkey
Frozen meat: 100% certified organic beef
Fully Cooked meat: certified organic pot roast, certified organic herb seasoned top sirloin roast
- What do you feed your beef cattle?
All our cattle are 100% grassfed, on certified organic pastures that are free of pesticides in accordance with the USDA National Organic Standards. In some cases, the cattle's diet may be supplemented with certified organic feed if organic grass is not sufficiently plentiful.
- Is Sommers Organic™ beef USDA graded?
Sommers Organic™ does not grade its meat. Grading is a voluntary program of the USDA. It measures the amount of marbling (fat) at one specific cut in the carcass. We believe that great taste and high quality is far more complex than simply the amount of marbling. We believe that beef raised according to the standards of the National Organic Program offers you assurance that Sommers Organic™ beef will meet or exceed your expectations for quality and flavor.
- Where does your meat come from?
Sommers Organic™ buys meat from the highest-quality, USDA certified organic farms around the world in order to meet growing consumer demand for high quality, delicious organic meat. Our meat is produced by carefully-selected, certified organic producers who meet both the stringent requirements of Sommers Organic™ and the USDA organic standards. Our beef is sourced domestically in the U.S. and is imported from leading organic producers in Australia , New Zealand and Uruguay . Our pork is imported from Canada . Our chicken and turkey are produced domestically.
- Why doesn't Sommers Organic™ buy all its beef in the US ?
At Sommers Organic™, we purchase our beef from carefully-selected, high quality, 100% USDA certified organic farms in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay. Currently domestic production of certified organic beef is not sufficient to keep up with growing consumer demand; therefore, we have developed partnerships with certified international organic meat producers to bring a consistent supply of high quality, delicious, USDA certified organic beef to American consumers.
- Does the USDA regulate imported meat? How do I know that it is safe?
Yes, the USDA is responsible for overseeing and enforcing the entry of only qualified organic products into the United States , thus preventing false and mislabeled products from entering the country. Meat that is imported from countries outside the United States is subject to the same stringent guidelines, inspections and standards as meat that is raised domestically. So you can be assured that imported meat meets or exceeds the quality and safety of meat produced in the United States .
As of Oct. 21 2002, all organic products from outside the United States that are sold in the United States have the same requirements as produce and products grown and processed in the United States, including certification by a USDA-accredited agency.
- Where do you process your meat?
All Sommers Organic™ products are currently processed at our own processing facilities in Chicago, IL and Wheeling, IL . These facilities use state-of-the-art processing equipment and technologies and follow the stringent requirements for USDA organic certification.
Where to buy
- Can I buy Sommers Organic™ products online?
No, Sommers Organic™ products are not sold online at this time. Our products are available in select supermarkets, natural food stores and club stores throughout the United States . Visit the Store Locator section of our website to find out where you can buy our products in your area.
- Where can I buy Sommers Organic™ products?
Sommers Organic™ products are available in the fresh meat case, prepared foods case and frozen foods section of select supermarkets, natural food stores and club stores throughout the United States . Visit the Store Locator section of our website to find out where you can buy our products in your area.
- Why are your products only available in certain areas?
Today, Sommers Organic™ fresh meat products are primarily available in the Midwest, although we intend to expand our distribution significantly in the coming months. Our frozen and fully-cooked products are available at select supermarkets, natural food stores and club stores throughout the United States . Visit the Store Locator section of our website to find out where you can buy our products in your area.
- Where can I find Sommers Organic™ products in the store?
Sommers Organic™ products can be found in the fresh meat case, prepared foods case and frozen foods section of select supermarkets, natural food stores and club stores.
- How can I get my store to carry Sommers Organic™ meats?
If you would like to have your local store carry Sommers Organic™ products, we suggest that you contact the store manager and ask them to consider selling our products. Visit the Store Locator section of our website for a printable store request form.
- What does the American Heart Association seal mean?
Sommers Organic™ products displaying the heart-check mark meet American Heart Association food criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people over age of 2. For a list of American Heart Association certified products, as well as more heart-healthy information, visit www.americanheart.org .
- Do your products contain trans fats?
Sommers Organic™ products do not contain any added trans fats. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when liquid oils are made into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. However, a small amount of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods such as beef, pork, chicken and turkey.
- What are trans fats?
According to the United States Department of Health & Human Services, trans fats occur in foods when manufacturers use hydrogenation, a process in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil in order to turn the oil into a more solid fat. Trans fat is often but not always found in the same foods as saturated fat, such as vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked foods, salad dressings, and other processed foods.
- Why should I care about trans fats?
Scientific evidence shows that consumption of trans fats, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) levels that increase the risk of coronary heart disease—a leading cause of death in the United States .
- How can I tell from the label whether foods contain trans fats?
Under the new FDA regulations, by January 1, 2006, consumers will be able to find trans fat listed on food nutrition labels directly under the line for saturated fat. All Sommers Organic™ products currently list the trans fat content on the nutrition facts panel on the package.
- Do your products contain added salt?
Our Fresh and Frozen meats do not contain any added salt, preservatives or coloring.
Our Fully Cooked products do contain added salt, which we use as a seasoning. For example, our Organic Pot Roast contains soy sauce which contains sodium and our Herb Roasted Organic Top Sirloin Roast contains natural sea salt as a seasoning.
- What is the sodium content of your products?
Sommers Organic™ products contain varying levels of sodium, depending on the product.
For specific nutritional information on individual products, please visit the Our Products section of our website.
- What does “Lean” mean?
According to FDA definitions, “lean” products contain less than 10g of total fat, less than 4.5g of saturated fat and less than 95mg of cholesterol per serving.
- What does “Extra Lean” mean?
According to FDA definitions, “extra lean” products contain less than 5g of total fat, less than 2g of saturated fat and less than 95mg cholesterol per serving.
Preparation & Handling
- What is the shelf life on your products? How can I tell if the fresh meat I bought is still good?
All Sommers Organic™ fresh and fully-cooked products have a Use/Freeze By date on the package. Sommers Organic™ frozen products have a Use By date on the package. Use this date as your guide for freshness. For safety and optimum taste & flavor, use the product by this date. If you are not going to use Sommers Organic™ fresh or fully-cooked products by the Use/Freeze By date, freeze them according to proper freezing instructions
- Can I freeze your products? How long can I keep them in the freezer?
Sommers Organic™ products stored constantly at 0 0 F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. Freshness and quality at the time of freezing affect the condition of frozen food. If frozen at peak quality, foods emerge tasting better than frozen foods near the end of their useful life. So freeze Sommers Organic™ products you won't use quickly sooner rather than later.
Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent “freezer burn.” Remove product from its original packaging, then rewrap these packages as you would any food for long-term storage using airtight heavy-duty foil, freezer plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place the package inside a freezer plastic bag. Use these materials or airtight freezer containers to repackage family packs into smaller amounts. It is not necessary to rinse meat and poultry before freezing. Freeze Sommers Organic™ fully-cooked vacuum packages as is.
Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Use the freezer storage chart below for recommended storage of frozen Sommers Organic™ products:
Meat, uncooked roasts, steaks and chops 4-12
Meat, uncooked ground 3-4
Meat, cooked 2-3
Poultry, uncooked whole 12
Poultry, uncooked parts and giblets 9
Poultry, cooked 4
- Do I need to cook organic meat differently than conventional meat?
Cooking methods for pasture-raised organic meats differ from those used for conventional meat. Tender cuts of grass-fed organic beef are often high in protein and low in fat and must be cooked gently.
Organic meat should be cooked to rare or medium rare. If you like well done beef, cook at very low temperatures in a sauce or marinade to add moisture.
Meat cuts, such as steaks, cook more rapidly so cooking times need to be adjusted. As a general rule of thumb, organic beef usually requires 30% less cooking time and it will continue to cook when removed from the heat.
Use a good meat thermometer not a timer
Turn down the heat. Either reduce the temperature of your recipes by 50 o F or reduce the cooking time. Either way, watch your meat thermometer!
When grilling, sear quickly over high heat on each side to seal in the natural juices, and then reduce the heat to medium or low to finish the cooking process.
Let beef rest covered after cooking for several minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
Never turn beef with a fork – precious juices will be lost. Always use tongs.
Never use a microwave to thaw your organic beef. Either thaw in the refrigerator or quick thaw in water if the beef is in a vacuum sealed package.
- What does Use/Freeze By mean?
All Sommers Organic™ fresh and fully-cooked products have a Use/Freeze By date on the package. Sommers Organic™ frozen products have a Use By date on the package. Use this date as your guide for freshness. For safety and optimum taste and flavor, use the product by this date. If you are not going to use Sommers Organic™ fresh or fully-cooked products by the Use/Freeze By date, freeze them according to proper freezing instructions .
- How should the product be stored safely?
Sommers Organic™ fresh meats and refrigerated fully-cooked products should be stored in your refrigerator as soon as possible after purchase. Frozen products should be stored at 0 º F.
- How do I prepare your frozen products?
For best results, place Sommers Organic™ frozen products in your refrigerator for approximately 1-2 days or until thawed.
- Do meat and poultry products change color after freezing?
Color changes occur in frozen foods. The bright red color of meat as purchased usually turns dark or pale brown depending on its variety. This may be due to lack of oxygen, freezer burn or abnormally long storage.
Freezing doesn't usually cause color changes in poultry. However, the bones and meat near the bones can become dark. Bone darkening results when pigment seeps through the porous bones of young poultry into the surrounding tissues when poultry is frozen and thawed.
- Your package says “Unconditionally Guaranteed for Complete Satisfaction”. How can I get my money back if I am not completely satisfied?
We are sorry that you had a less than satisfactory experience with our products. At Sommers Organic™ we take our customers comments very seriously. In order to receive a full refund for the product you purchased, please send the UPC symbol (bar code) found on the package, along with your cash register receipt to:
339 Messner Drive
Wheeling , IL 60090
ATTN: Customer Service
- How can I find out more about Sommers Organic ™ ?
If you have other questions that haven't been answered or need more information about Sommers Organic™, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 877-377-9797.
- How can I become a Sommers Organic ™ retailer?
Visit the Become a Sommers Organic™ Retailer section of our website or call us at 877-377-9797.