When you’re walking through the grocery store, there are so many options it can be overwhelming. Especially when it comes to produce. When you go to buy apples, you not only have to decide between colors and varieties – there’s also local, farm-grown and organic. But what does “organic” actually mean? And is it truly better for you?
“Organic” refers to the way agricultural products like fruit, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy products are grown/raised and processed by famers. Organic farming works to enhance soil and water quality, reduce pollution, provide safe and healthy habitats for livestock, and promote a self-sustaining process for resources. Things that make farming non-organic include the use of synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, irradiation for preservation or disease and pest control, genetic engineering, and use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an organic certification program that requires food to meet a certain standard before it can be labeled as organic. Foods can be categorized as:
- 100% organic: Organic single-ingredient foods like fruits or veggies
- Organic: Multi-ingredient foods with at least 95% organic ingredients, minus salt and water
- Made with organic: Made with at least 70% certified organic products
- Organic ingredients: Less than 70% organic ingredients. These can’t be labeled as organic, but can list which ingredients are organic.
Foods labelled as “natural” are different than “organic.” A “natural” food label means the food has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. It doesn’t refer to the methods or materials used to produce the food or its ingredients.
So is organic more healthy? Organically grown foods do have some health benefits. Studies have shown organic produce has small to moderate increases in some nutrients over conventionally grown produce. In organic livestock, the feeding requirements lead to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are more heart health than other fats. Organic foods also have lower rates of pesticide exposure than conventionally grown foods. Try adding some organic foods to your grocery list next time you shop.
Content by Lockton Dunning Benefits with info from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880