What Does Organic REALLY Mean, Anyway? Here’s the Info You Need Before You Go Shopping
Organic is one of the many buzzwords that come up in people’s heads when they go grocery shopping. We’re told that organic is better, that organic will help us live healthier lives, that organic will help us lose weight, etc. Well, the message seems to be sticking because in 2017, the organic food market made $45.2 billion in sales. Whoa. But what does organic really mean, anyway? What does it mean to be certified organic? Is it all a scam or is it worth investigating?
These are questions you might be too embarrassed to ask at this point because you feel like you should know them by now. But you might be surprised by the answers — and these are answers you need to know so you can have a solid grasp on your nutrition. So let’s break it down. Here are the facts about what organic really is, and how you should incorporate it into your diet.
What Does Organic Mean?
When a food is USDA-certified organic, it means it’s grown and processed according to specific federal guidelines. There are many factors to consider in these guidelines, including soil quality, pesticide and weed control, and the use of additives. Producers of organic foods must rely on natural substances and farming methods as much as possible in order to be certified organic. None of it can be grown or handled using genetically modified organisms. It means there are as little chemicals and pesticides used in the growing and handling process as possible.
Is Organic Really Better For You?
It’s no secret that organic is more expensive because it takes more labor and time to produce, so it’s fair to wonder if it’s worth the extra money. Some research has suggested that organic foods are higher in nutritional value because without pesticides and fertilizers, plants are able to boost their production of vitamins and antioxidants that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. Additionally, pesticides have been previously linked to all kinds of nasties, from diseases to cancers to birth defects.
According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, even low-level pesticide exposure is very dangerous for pregnant women. Pesticides in small amounts are toxic for fetuses, so women who are pregnant are highly encouraged to significantly reduce their intake of pesticides and related chemicals.
How Much Organic Food Should You Be Eating?
There are some foods that are worth buying organic, and others that don’t pose the same necessity for the organic certification. If you can afford to buy organic and local all the time, it’s definitely a good idea to do so. However, we know that not everyone has that kind of luxury.
A non-profit organization called the Environmental Working Group is known for its “dirty dozen” list, which is 12 produce items that we should be buying organic. This includes strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes. Hot peppers have recently been added to the list as well. These are fruits and vegetables that require more pesticides to fight of bugs compared to other produce that have shells like bananas and avocados, or more resilient produce like beets and eggplant. If you don’t buy the “dirty dozen” as organic, you could be inadvertently consuming a great deal of pesticides that your body doesn’t deserve.
Besides, when you buy organic, local produce, you can likely taste the difference. Fruits and vegetables that have been covered in pesticides and chemicals will not only look different (often bigger and shaped perfectly), but they will also taste less sweet, less crunchy, etc. Fresh cherries that have been organically and naturally grown will always be sweeter and juicier than their pesticide-filled counterparts. So not only are you doing your body good, but you and your family will enjoy the food more if it’s grown as nature intended.
The Final Word
Grocery shopping isn’t as easy of a task as it may seem. Make sure you’re looking for the USDA certification on organic food because we now live in a time where you can slap the word organic on a label and claim that it’s natural, yet it doesn’t follow the organic guidelines. Be smart about where you buy your produce, and whenever possible, buy local.
If you don’t know where to start, Healthy Truth has a wide variety of USDA-certified organic products that are made to help your body thrive — and they taste incredible. Try a handful of organic raw dried pineapple, organic spicy chipotle nut clusters, or organic raw cacao powder. You can always trust that our products are organic and naturally made, and that they will actually do your body good.