Organic: What does that really mean?
Eating healthy is very important to me. So when it comes to shopping for food I try to choose high quality whole foods. This includes organic food. Organic food is a bit pricier than conventional grown or raised food so should I really spend the extra money?
Well, here is some information for any of you, like me, who just wants to know what I’m buying and what organic really means.
- “100% organic” food must carry the green and white “USDA organic seal”. These are usually whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.
- “Organic” foods must contain 95% of organic ingredients and the rest of the ingredients come from a list of allowable ingredients. “Organic” foods also carry the green and white USDA seal.. These foods are often whole frozen or canned foods.
- “Made with organic ingredients” are at least 70% organic. These foods can not carry the USDA seal. These foods may be any type of processed or packaged food.
In 2002 the US Department of Agriculture implemented standards for American farmers and manufacturers and to be organic foods must be:
- Grown or produced with out chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
- Livestock with out the use of antibiotics or growth hormones
- Can not be genetically modified, irradiated or cloned.
- Livestock must be raised with outdoor access and fed organic feed.
Before a product can be labeled “organic” an inspector visits the farm or manufacturer where the food is produced to make sure they meet the guidelines.
There are federal laws in place that will fine manufacturers and farmers up to $10,000.00 for each violation of selling or labeling food that is not organic or food that is contaminated with non organic compounds.
Some farmers may practice organic standards and guidelines but choose to avoid the red tape of getting certified.
Is organic food better for you? Researchers at the
I buy organic whenever possible especially when it comes to the “Dirty Dozen”. These foods, according the Environmental Working Group, have the highest level of pesticides when bought conventional. These foods are the following (in order from highest pesticide level to lowest): Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, grapes (imported), carrots, and pears. I also buy organic meats because I think they taste better.
So the choice is yours. It’s good to have choices and it’s also good to get educated on what you put into and on your body. Stay healthy and happy!
Sources: Cooking Light April 2009