Organic= Healthy= Better…Right?
Sort of, but not exactly. While buying organic might help you avoid a lot of chemicals, which is super…you might want to think twice before accepting the label “organic” to justify that “organic” pack of fruit snacks.
Organic food consumption is on the rise. Sales have increased in the U.S. by 20% each year since 1990 and are willing to pay 40% MORE for that organic label.
But why? What is organic and what makes it so special?
Organic by definition, is:
“Noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.”
Umm, yeah, okay. That’s super helpful in trying to decide between the organic and non-organic cucumbers at the super market.
Let’s start with what organic means for farmers.
The U.S. Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 established national standards for organically grown foods.
In 2002, the rules went into effect for those farms selling more than $5,000/year of organic products. Farms deriving less than $5,000/year are exempt from certification.
To earn the “organic” label in the U.S., farmers must follow specific criteria. For a list of specific criteria as to what farmers are allowed and not allowed, check out this link:
What Does Organic Food DO for YOU?
Organic food contains less chemicals, has less of an impact on the environment than traditional farming methods, has been found to have higher levels of the trace minerals most of us are lacking in, and has been known to taste sweeter and firmer (ex. Apple). With that being said, organic food does have higher potential for bacterial contamination since its not treated with antibiotics, and possible increased microbiological hazard.
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW about READING ORGANIC LABELS:
“Organic” does not mean animals are grass-fed or free to roam pastures at their leisure. It also doesn’t mean that the food you’re about to eat is healthy, low-fat, free of sugar, or unprocessed. Look on the shelf at your local grocery store and I’m certain you can find “organic” lolly pops, ice cream, tv dinners, chips, etc. There are three standardized organic labels, but countless other label claims exist that are very misleading.
Helpful advice when READING LABELS…
If a product is labeled “100% organic” the product must contain 100% organic ingredients.
If a product is labeled “organic”, at least 95% of its ingredients are organically produced.
If a product is labeled “made with organic ingredients”, at least 70% of the ingredients are organic. The remaining 30% must be on the USDA’s approved list.
Labels that are pretty much meaningless say stuff like…
“Free-range”, “Free-roaming”, “Natural”, “All natural”, “organic seafood”, or “Antibiotic free”.
Meaningful labels contain…
“Certified humane raised and handled
“Natural food certifiers”
“No antibiotics administered” or “Raised without antibiotics”
“Hormone-free” or “No hormones administered”
In conclusion, many people have linked health, fresh, natural, and sustainable with the word organic. The USDA doesn’t regulate the health of our food. Buying organic simply means that the company has met accreditation criteria (see above). Even organic unhealthy food is still unhealthy food.
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