It’s hard to turn your head at the grocery store without seeing the word Organic. Many see it as a synonym for health; others see it as simply a way to spend more money, however very few understand what it really means. This month I wanted to break down the word organic so you can decide if it’s right for you!
Organic Fruit & Vegetables
When you buy an organic fruit and vegetable it means that both the soil and produce are maintained and replenished without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen to see which of the produce you eat contain the most pesticides.
Organic Meat & Poultry
The term organic when applied to animal protein starts at birth. The animal must be born and raised on land that is free from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. All the feed that it receives must also be 100% organic and can never contain any animal by-products. Finally, they can never receive any antibiotics and must have ready access to open pastureland.
Organic Grains & Packaged Food
When it comes to packaged foods you shouldn’t assume that the product is actually healthy, but rather it has come from healthier ingredients. For instance if you buy an organic cookie – your flour won’t come from wheat crops that have been sprayed with pesticides or any other unpleasant chemicals. The same applies to all the other ingredients you put in those tasty cookies. None of them will have been treated or grown or developed with anything bad, like growth hormones or artificial pesticides or anything similar. However, it is still a cookie – unfortunately the word organic doesn’t turn it into broccoli!
Basically, organic means getting back to basics. It means you know you’re getting something that’s been safely and responsibly produced. However, as we’ve seen with the cookie example, organic doesn’t always translate into healthy food. It all depends on the ingredients and whether you eat them in moderation.
Finally, organic is not always just a health issue, but rather a financial issue. If you are wondering where to spend your money check out my article on what to buy organic. Also, remember the most important thing is that you get fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains into you. So you can’t afford organic or it’s not available in your area don’t use this as a reason to skip out on your fruits and vegetables!
Tara Coleman is a Clinical Nutritionist and Salada Tea Spokesperson living in San Diego, CA. She blogs twice a month with “Tara’s Friday Bite.” Leave your comments with ideas for future topics or email Tara directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.