Here’s a scenario that is probably familiar to many of you! You’re
at the grocery store and see two of all types of produce. There’s
either ‘conventional’ or ‘organic’. So you stand there in the store
trying to decide if it’s worth it to spend the extra money on organic.
Some claim that you should only eat organic food. Others say it doesn’t matter and that it’s just a hoax. Here’s what I think about the organic debate:
- Organically farmed plants are generally kinder to the land, the environment and therefore our health.
- There is no conclusive evidence (yet) showing that eating conventionally farmed (with pesticides) foods cause cancer, or that those who eat organically farmed foods have lower rates of cancer.
- There are some foods that are more contaminated with pesticides than others.
These facts leave you wondering what to do! First off, it is important to know what ‘Organic’ really means:
The US government monitors the organic label. It can be an expensive
process for the farmer’s to go through in order to be able to make the
organic claim. Therefore, many smaller farms that you might find in
your area cannot afford to get the official organic claim. If you shop at farmer’s markets or coop where you can talk to the farmer, they can tell you if they use organic farm practices.
Organic Food Facts
Here are some facts about organic food from the National Organic Program:
- Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable
resources and the conservation of soil and water.
- 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
- Companies that handle or process organic food before it
gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must also be certified.
- Products labeled as “100 percent organic” must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients.
- Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt).
- Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients”.
What Should You Do?
I can’t tell you what you should do. But I’ll tell you what I try to do! I follow the guide put out by the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). They have a list that is very handy to have while shopping.
The Dirty Dozen (buy these organic):
They also have a list of the cleanest 15 that you can print or take with you (see image).
Eat your veggies, organic if you choose!