By now I am sure you have seen organic food in your local grocery store.
You really want to try organic to see what the hype is about, but you can’t bring yourself to pay more for it. But what many people do not realize is that what they save by purchasing conventional products they end up paying years down the road with their health. You pay now or you pay later.
For starters, what does the term “organic” mean? Basically, organic means that the food is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or irradiation. If meat/dairy/eggs are organic it means that the animal did not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
There is a legal definition of organic. According to the USDA a product that has the “USDA Organic” seal is certified organic and has 95 percent or more organic content. Keep in mind that there are varying degrees of organic. Here is the breakdown:
If the label says…
100% Organic= Made with 100% organic ingredients
Organic= Made with at least 95% organic ingredients
Made With Organic Ingredients= Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. The remaining 30% are subject to strict regulations (i.e. no GMOs -genetically modified organisms- allowed)
It’s true, more people are eating organic. You know something has gone mainstream when you see it at Walmart. And although I think it’s great to see more and more organic items (it reflects the demand for organic food!) you still need to read the ingredients because many companies are in it for the money and they will find loopholes in the system in order to get the label “organic.” I read that a product can still be considered organic if it has a small amount of a few non organic items (i.e. water, salt). But it seems that this list is getting longer. So make sure you read the ingredients. And the shorter the list the better.
Beware of the term “natural”
Companies that are trying to jump on the food revolution bandwagon will sometimes place the phrase “all natural” on their products as if “all natural” actually means something. It doesn’t. There is no legal definition of the term “natural.” So do not buy products simply because on the package you see the words natural. Natural is so loosely defined that anything can be called natural. Genetically modified ingredients can be considered natural. High fructose corn syrup can be considered natural. You get the idea.
Some people do not believe organic is worth it, saying things like, “It’s just a money scam” for which I always retort: “Since when is it wrong to get paid for your labor? Besides, I’d rather make a company rich that’s not trying to kill me”
Ok so why does organic food cost more? Well first of all let me say that it doesn’t always cost more. The more popular it becomes, the less you will pay- which we are already seeing. Much of the produce I buy costs the same and is sometimes even cheaper than conventional produce. And if you stick to whole foods as opposed to processed foods, you will save a lot of money. But I cannot lie, organic processed, or packaged items can sometimes be twice the price of non organic packaged food. At face value, organic food seems to cost more. But keep in mind that there is a hidden cost when it comes to conventional food. Conventional farmers receive federal subsidies to grow certain food, which we are paying for through our tax dollars! On the other hand, the price of organic food reflects what it actually costs the farmer’s to grow it. Also, with conventional farming, we are damaging the environment and paying for the cost of environmental cleanup… with our tax dollars! When you grow organic, you are not using synthetic pesticides, so by nature you lose a portion of your crops. Organic farming is more labor intensive. Also, it costs money to have your items certified organic. Oh and conventional products are usually cheaper because they use cheap, synthetic ingredients! For example, high fructose corn syrup is in everything because its cheaper to produce than normal sugar. Most companies are going to use HFCS simply because it saves them money. Unfortunately, whether or not it’s good for your health doesn’t really concern them. This is what I mean when I say there is a cost to your health.
Ultimately, the number one reason my husband and I buy organic is because we do not want to ingest toxins. Proper nutrition, along with minimizing exposure to toxins are essential to good health. We also want to support farmers and companies that are doing things the right way. This is called voting with your dollars. You can write all the letters you want and attempt to change all the laws. But big corporations only understand money. If their customers are taking their money elsewhere, they will respond. Either they will produce products that are better for the body and environment or lose revenue.
Ok. So I have given you a few reasons why organic food sometimes costs more. If you aren’t quite ready to whip out the extra cash for healthy, organic food, just know that it does not have to be all or nothing! Here is an updated list of the dirty dozen, or produce you should definitely by organic:
Basically, when buying produce, if it has a thin skin, go for organic.
Last, but definitely not least, I think that meat and dairy are the most crucial items to purchase organic. You can always wash your produce to get some of the pesticides off. However, with meat and dairy, if it’s not organic you are eating parts of an unhealthy animal that was fed toxins and injected with toxins. No way to wash that off. Animals raised organically are not allowed to be fed antibiotics, growth hormones or genetically modified foods. Also, organic animals are more likely to have been raised without cruelty.
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