The term ‘organic’ indicates that something is grown as well as processed without the use of harmful pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, or herbicides. In other words, since it does not use anything unnatural, organic foods are regarded as genuine nutritional foods. In contrast to non-organic or conventionally produced foods, organically grown foods including fruits and vegetables contain high levels of Vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals, and phytonutrients. Furthermore, organic foods are usually fresh, as they do not contain any kind of harmful preservatives. Organic foods are grown and produced using natural fertilizers in the form of manure and compost. Additionally, weeds are controlled and preserved naturally through procedures like hand weeding, tilling, mulching, and crop rotation. Where conventional farming techniques include the use of insecticides to control pests and insects, organic crops use natural methods like traps and good insects to control pests and detrimental insects.
The use of organic foods also promote for a healthier environment because organic farming methods are eco-friendly when compared to intensive farming techniques that may sometimes lead to adverse situations such as soil erosion, destruction of archaic hedgerows, and devastation of wild life. In addition, the term organic also includes organically raised animals that are raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. In short, when you buy something labeled ‘organic’, you can be assured that you are buying something natural (but when you see the word 'natural', it doesn't mean it's organic).
What does the USDA organic certification mean?
The USDA organic certification, provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, is recognized as one of the most sought after certified organic seals in the world. An item with USDA organic certification means that it contains only organically produced ingredients. In fact, for a product to qualify for USDA organic certification, it must utilize only healthy or natural ingredients that do not cause any harm to humans, animals, and overall natural surroundings. In other words, in order to earn USDA organic certification, a product must conform to specific standards that have been set by the USDA such as:
- Strict prohibition of materials like synthetic insecticides, herbicides, and additives containing toxic elements
- Free from irradiation
- Free from genetically engineered organisms
- Animals that are used for producing eggs, meat, and milk must not be given antibiotics or growth hormones and must be fed using natural as well as organically grown food items
- Corporeal classification of certified organic items from non-organic items throughout the manufacturing process
- Sanitized, clean, and healthy procedures must be adopted for the production of organic foods
Above all, to ensure compliance, USDA approved inspectors conduct regular on-site inspections. When you buy a food or clothing item with USDA organic certification, you are guaranteed that these products have met the standards set by the USDA and are completely free of toxic chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones.
The Dirty Dozen | 12 foods that you should be buying organic
What foods should I buy organic?
More and more organic food items are being introduced to the market, from organic cereals and chocolates to cheeses and butter. However, for some people it is not affordable to buy organic items each and every time, as they can be quite expensive. Listed below are some food items that may help you for wiser shopping.
- Nectarines – In order to grow this fruit conventionally, the crops need large amounts of pesticides. Therefore, nectarines earn the top spot among which fruits to buy organic.
- Celery – As it does not have a protective outer covering, it may require a variety of chemicals to grow it conventionally thus making it the second on the list of foods that should be bought organic.
- Pears – This fruit also requires high pesticide use when it is farmed conventionally.
- Peaches – As in the case of nectarines, peaches also require significant amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to produce conventionally.
- Cherries – Conventionally grown cherries contain high amounts of pesticides and should be bought organic whenever possible.
- Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries – This is also a top priority organic fruit, as conventionally grown berries contain a high pesticide content.
- Imported Grapes – Grapes, especially Chilean, usually have high levels of pesticides. Additionally, since they have permeable skin, peeling them may be helpful to remove deposits. It is better to opt for organically grown grapes.
- Spinach – In most cases, conventionally cultivated herbs such as spinach contain high levels of potent pesticides.
- Potatoes – Potatoes include high amounts of fungicides and pesticides, thereby making organically cultivated potatoes among the top priority organic vegetables.
- Bell Peppers - Bell peppers are more prone to pesticide contamination, as they have delicate skin and are often heavily sprayed with insecticides.
- Lettuce – Lettuce also has a high content of pesticides with toxic elements. Make sure you pick the Romaine variety as iceberg contains very little nutritional vanlue.
What about organic milk, beef and chicken?
A healthy diet may be incomplete without milk, eggs, and meat items like chicken and beef. Choosing organic milk, beef and chicken is always the better option as they are free of antibiotics, pesticides, and growth hormones when compared to their conventional counterparts.
Should I worry about antibiotics?
Right now there aren't any negative longterm studies with antibiotics(that we are aware of at the time of this article being published). The major concern is growth hormones.
It's law in the US to sell chicken and pork without growth hormones. Beef should be purchased without growth hormones.
The Clean 15 | The 15 fruits and vegetables you can buy without the organic label
A list of the clean 15 foods to eat are:
The basic rule when purchasing organic fruits and vegetables:
If the vegetable or fruit has a thick skin or layer that you can peel, don’t worry about ‘organic’. If it has a thin membrane or skin buy organic!