Why Should I Buy Organic?
There's been more of a movement towards organic foods lately and we see more organic options at the supermarket. Not everyone understands what the importance of buying organic means. More importantly, what makes something organic? Find out what it means and why you might want to start buying more organic foods.
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What makes something organic?
You're making a fruit basket for a friend and run into fruit that claims it's 'organic', in fact you've probably seen this quite a few times, but do you know what qualifies something to be called organic?
A food can only be called organic if it meets standards that are set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
These standards demand foods be free from chemical fertilizers and most synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics. The crops are grown with manure or compost instead.
Straight from the USDA
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines 'organic' as:
"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 food is 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, too."
Loopholes to know about...
Though the USDA has the high standards, there are still some loopholes that keep products from being 100% organic. For example, certain foods can be labeled with the USDA 'organic' sticker, even though up to 5% of their ingredients are actually non-organic. However, they must have at least 95% organic ingredients in that product.
That being said, there are three categories of organic foods, they are as follows:
- 100% Organic - made with 100% organic ingredients
- Organic - made with at least 95% organic ingredients
- Made with organic ingredients - made with at least 70% organic ingredients
Why should I care about organic food?
If you are concerned about the environment, or the things you are putting in your body (or in your above-mentioned fruit basket), then it's smart to be informed about organic foods.
Organic farms create far less pollution, and are more safe for wild animals and even the farmers themselves!
Now if you want to know what you're putting in your body, then organic is going to scare you less. Pesticides are awful on the body and have the potential to effect your liver, your body's ability to produce energy, and did you know that pesticides can also be linked to birth defects, cancer, immunity problems and nerve damage?
You are what you eat, after all!
Why are organic foods more expensive?
Unfortunately, eating foods without all the chemicals and pesticides can be expensive. But why? Well, organic foods aren't always more expensive. Sometimes items like coffee, bread, or hamburger is comparable to the groceries that aren't organic. But if you find organic items that are more expensive, there are reasons for that.
For one, organic farmers don't get the same federal subsidies that typical farms do. So the prices you see are the end result of this. Another reason it may be more expensive is because organic farming requires more labor and management.
Where can I find organic foods?
You're probably well aware of any local farmer's markets or something similar that is near your home. These are a great resource for foods that don't travel overseas or packed with preservatives. Because of this, they'll taste much better and you'll be helping your local farmer when you purchase their organic fruit or veggies. However, don't be afraid to ask the farm how the produce was grown - to ensure it really is organic.
Another place you can find organic foods is your local grocery store. Many times they will have an organic section of the store with plenty of options for you! Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
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