So, you’ve seen organic produce in the grocery store, organic labels on packaging, and heard about organic food on the news. What exactly does it mean to be USDA certified organic?
Organically certified foods are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, radiation, or growth hormones as well as free from other unnatural growth methods.
Alright, so does that mean organic foods are healthier?
Foods grown organically have a higher nutritional value than foods that are not. Organically grown fruits and vegetables potentially contain 40% more antioxidants and organic milk potentially contains 90% more antioxidants according to a Newcastle University study.
Not only do these foods have more nutrients, they also contain less chemicals. The chemicals often sprayed on crops are meant to kill other life forms, and while humans may not die from consuming them, these chemicals can still be very detrimental to our health.
Non-Organic foods that were grown using radiation methods can change the chemistry of the food itself, potentially even promoting cancer.
Foods that were not grown organically can be genetically modified, meaning that they are different than the food you are intending to buy. A genetically modified apple is structurally different than a non-genetically modified grown apple, and our bodies were not meant to process and run on genetically modified food.
Yes, organic foods generally are more expensive than other foods. This is because organic farmers do not receive subsidies and organic farming is more labor intensive and time-consuming.
Many people believe that organic foods taste better than other foods. I tend to agree, in part because non-organic foods can be grown with quantity and ship-ability in mind rather than taste.
Something else to consider when deliberating between organic or not is the cost to the environment. Growing food with toxic chemicals creates runoff that can damage nearby water sources. When chemicals are used to grow food, the land can be harmed to the point of the soil becoming infertile.
Not only produce can be labeled as organic. Animal products can gain the certification as well. Organic meat generally means that the animals were treated well, and ate higher quality feed in addition to being free to graze pastures.
Often times, organic produce can be less appealing the eye. But don’t let appearance fool you…try eating them before discounting them. You may find that you feel better and that the food actually tastes better.
Investing in your health pays off in the short term and long term, and buying organically grown foods is a good way to do that.