Happy Friday!! This week in my 52 Healthy Habits group I shared why it’s important to “Choose Organic” foods over conventional foods and the following question was asked:
“Here’s my question, with so many marketing ploys out there what distinguishes true organic from marketing gimmicks?”
This is a great question and a lengthy answer to really explain it all, but here is a simplified version:
One of the simplest ways is to look for the USDA organic seal. These seals are usually green or black and it means the product is 95%-100% organic.
Beyond the organic seal, you may also see organic wording on a product. For example, a 100% certified organic product may have “100% Organic” written on the packaging. A product that contains just 95% organic ingredients can say “Organic” on the packaging.
If you see a product with packaging wording that states, “Made With Organic Ingredients,” then the product contains at least 70% organic ingredients.
Be aware that many companies will try to trick consumers by placing look-alike labels and on packaging or tricky wording, so don’t get fooled.
Another simple trick to look for is to look at the PLU code. PLU codes are the little numbers on stickers that are entered when you buy your groceries. These PLU codes are identification numbers for produce, and organic PLU codes are different than conventional codes.
If a product is organic, the code will start with the number 9 and is followed by four more numbers. If the product is not organic, its PLU code will be a 4 digit number that starts with the number 4.
Buying from your local organic farmer is one of the best ways to make sure you are getting true organic as well.
Some organic growers don’t label their products because they’re not officially certified. Often this is because they grow a small amount of crops annually, so it’s not worth the cost to get certified. As an example, you may find true organic products at local farmers’ markets or local farms or through a Community Supported Agriculture program, but the products simply won’t be labeled with the organic seal. This doesn’t mean the products aren’t organic, though.
When you buy locally, ask the grower about their practices. See how they manage pests (with chemicals or not) and ask if they use safe fertilizers.
Wondering why you should be buying organic?
Eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the cocktail of chemical poisons present in commercially grown food. More than 600 active chemicals are registered for agricultural use in America, to the tune of billions of pounds annually.
The National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed “safe.” Further, the FDA tests only 1% of foods for pesticide residue. The most dangerous and toxic pesticides require special testing methods, which are rarely if ever employed by the FDA.
Genetically engineered (GE) food and genetically modified organisms (GMO) are contaminating our food supply at an alarming rate, with repercussions beyond understanding. GMO foods do not have to be labeled in America. Because organically grown food cannot be genetically modified in any way, choosing organic is the only way to be sure that foods that have been genetically engineered stay out of your diet.
The EPA reports that a majority of pesticide intake comes from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products because these foods are all high on the food chain. For instance, a large fish that eats a smaller fish that eats even smaller fish accumulates all of the toxins of the chain, especially in fatty tissue. Cows, chickens, and pigs are fed animal parts, by-products, fish meal, and grains that are heavily and collectively laden with toxins and chemicals.
Antibiotics, drugs, and growth hormones are also directly passed into meat and dairy products. Tens of millions of pounds of antibiotics are used in animal feed every year. The union of concerned scientists estimates that roughly 70% of antibiotics produced in the United States are fed to animals for non-therapeutic purposes.
Choosing organic animal products is crucial for everyone’s health, but it’s extremely important, especially for children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.
Besides our health and the health of the farmers, organic farming supports eco-sustenance and reduces pollution and protects our water and soil and preserves the farms for future generations.
Stay Healthy my Friends!
Carrie A Groff