You walk into the grocery store to buy produce and you must make a choice $0.99/lb for organic bananas or $0.64/lb for conventional bananas. How do you decide which to buy? Is organic food really that much better for me than conventional foods? What about my budget, can I afford organic fruit?
The organic food program in the US is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to the USDA organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that have not been given antibiotics or growth hormones. In order for foods to be certified organic they must be grown without the use of “conventional” pesticides or synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge. (Sewage sludge can be used to introduce valuable nutrients back into the soil.)
In order to be considered organic, a farm must be inspected by a government approved certifier to meet USDA standards. After organic products leave the farm they are handled and processed by various methods. All companies that process organic foods must also be certified.
The Mayo Clinic gives a good comparison of organic vs conventional foods.
How do I know that a product has been certified?
Product that contain 95-100% organic materials can contain the USDA organic seal.
Does natural mean organic?
NO! The only way to know that a product is truly organic is to be an informed consumer and look for the seal. Terms like “hormone-free”, “free-range” and “natural” should not be confused with organic.
So you have to make the choice for you and your family. Think you like the idea of purchasing organic products but don’t feel like you can justify the costs? Next we’ll explore which organic foods to choose if you can only choose a few.