The Basics of Organics

The Basics of Organics

Perhaps it’s the growing number of healthcare concerns or a desire to reduce environmental impacts that fuels some families’ decision to “go organic.”

Mothers inundated with new information about growth hormones and pesticide runoffs choose organic foods to avoid toxic chemicals in their children’s diet.

A nationwide push to support local farmers and understand precisely where food comes from is among the many reasons why demand for organics has grown from a ripple to a wave.

But what exactly does “organic” mean?
Organic is generally defined as produce or goods that are grown or made without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge or genetically modified organisms. Organic meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products must not contain antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic products, like household cleaners and even some clothing, cannot contain chemical colors, nitrates, nitrites and are free of artificial ingredients. Bioengineering or cloning and ionizing radiation are also prohibited under the Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program standards.

Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

What about “organic” versus “natural” products?
Natural products are those that do not contain synthetic or artificial ingredients. These foods are also not more than minimally processed.

Just because a food product is “natural” does not mean it is “organic”.

How do I know if a product is natural or organic?
Foods that are natural may state so on the label. Some foods that are natural such as fresh apples (non-organic) may not be labeled as such, which means it may be difficult to determine which foods are natural. Organic products may vary in the amount of organic ingredients they contain.

So what’s the big deal?
Going organic not only helps keep toxic chemicals like pesticides and growth hormones out of our bodies, thus reducing long-term health risks, organic proponents also argue that short-term choices like watching shopping habits in the grocery store encourages long-term goals of reducing pollutants within the eco-system. Buying organic products encourages farmers to use organic practices. Going organic not only helps keep toxic chemicals like pesticides and growth hormones out of our bodies

Leave a Reply