Which is true? Better yet, what’s the smart choice for you and your family?
Read on to find the truth about organic…
Organic has exploded in popularity in recent years. In fact, organic product sales now top $47 billion, up from the previous year’s record-breaking sales.
And farm fresh basics — dairy, veggies and fruits — account for more than $20 billion in organic sales alone and are driving the market.
Fueling the demand is the fact that organic foods have been found to contain more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and micronutrients than conventionally grown foods. So, you really do get more bang for your buck in many instances. But that’s not all.
By choosing organic, you’re not just getting more nutrition. You’re also avoiding dozens of chemical pesticides linked to all types of health problems and environmental destruction.
Some of the chemicals used to grow non-organic foods are actually called obesogens. These chemical compounds are known to disrupt hormonal systems and actually make it harder to lose weight.
The truth is that more than 3,000 high-risk toxins, including pesticides, are, by law, excluded from certified organic products. And third-party testing and inspections hold farms accountable to this standard.
Certified organic also means that there’s no irradiation or human sewage sludge; no synthetic fertilizers or prohibited pesticides — and no genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Organic — It’s Better for Everyone (Animals Included)
Of course, organic is better for people. But let’s not forget about how important USDA Certified Organic is when it comes to animals.
About 80 percent of antibiotics sold in America are used not for sick people, but to raise meat and poultry! Of particular concern? A class of antibiotics that are being used more and more in non-organic meat production. This is fueling hard-to-kill antibiotic-resistant germs that can sicken or even kill humans.
Another threat beyond pesticides are residues of artificial hormones that are widely used to promote growth in beef cattle, dairy cows and sheep may also increase the risk of ill health in humans and lead to higher rates of infection in animals.
With Certified USDA Organic, there are zero antibiotics or growth hormones; 100 percent organic feed, while giving animals access to the outdoors and upholding animal health and welfare standards.
Good for People and the Planet
It’s important to note that Certified USDA Organic is a smart choice for our earth, too.
Organic farming doesn’t allow use of toxic chemicals, but uses specific soil management with sustainable practices, water conservation methods and pollution reduction. Organic farming helps preserve ecosystems through crop rotation, soil preservation and biodiversity.
By contrast, conventional farming includes chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers that contaminate our environment, including creating large dead zones in bodies of water. You see, only 0.1 percent of pesticides make it to their target, leaving 99.9 percent to adversely affect the environment.
Beyond that, glyphosate, the most-used chemical in agricultural history, is causing major biodiversity problems. Used as the main ingredient in a well-known weed and grass killer, glyphosate is blamed for the 81 percent loss of monarch butterfly population in the Midwest.
Those are just some of the reasons why it’s smart to go organic.
But Should You Insist on Only Organic?
Organic food sales continue to grow by double digits each year, and families are continuing to select organic food for themselves. In fact, people are insisting on organic, and it’s not just a fad. They choose organic for informed, specific reasons. Here are some of them, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
For starters, organic farming delivers more than any other food and farming system in the world. That alone is a reason for many to buy and eat organic.
Additionally, when you choose organic, you get food that has been grown and raised by farmers who never use prohibited pesticides, GMOs, growth hormones or antibiotics.
By choosing organic, you are assured that you’re also taking the higher road when it comes to humans, your health and animal treatment.
When It’s Not Certified, Make Sure You Choose Farms and Companies You Can Trust
With that said, organic is an added assurance of ethical, quality farming practices, but it’s not the only “clean” option.
Some farmers practice highly clean and pure practices, but they simply haven’t sought certification from the USDA.
If you find a company or farm you think you can trust, but they don’t have the organic seal on their products, here’s a list of questions you can ask to find out if, indeed, they’ve been farmed properly but just lack the third-party organic certification.
1. Why aren’t you Certified Organic?
If you’re told “it is organic but we’re just not certified because of the cost,” take that with a grain of salt.
The smallest farms are exempt from certification under the National Organic Program.
Beyond that, growers who gross between $5,001 and $20,000 a year generally only pay about $100 a year when it’s all said and done.
2. Can I visit your farm?
Farmers who have nothing to hide will be forthcoming about what they do. I also think it is great when farmers allow consumers to visit the farm to see what is going on. If a farm is not certified by a third party, then see if you can visit the farm to see if they’re doing the right thing.
Even if you don’t have time to visit the farm, it’s probably a good sign if your farmer is very open to the idea of having you stop by.
3. How do you control weeds?
Organic farmers use all sorts of methods to suppress weeds, but generally aren’t fixated on a completely weed-free field, and with good reason. Organic methods include using cover crops, mulching and cultivation. If it’s a smaller operation, they may even use hand-weeding.
4. How do you control bugs?
Biodiversity is a major part of organic farming. Farmers who install wildlife corridors and pollinator plantings, including meadows, will attract beneficial insects into the field to prey on pests that like to eat crops. There are also organic-approved pest-control products on the market.
5. Do you give your animals medications?
This is all about what you’re comfortable with. Does the farmer use a drug only if it’s a necessary, life-threatening situation? Do they nix use of all medications? Do they use only wormer?
Getting to know and trust a local farmer means you can often source clean meat that you’re comfortable with, even if the small farmer isn’t certified organic.
6. How do you rotate your animals?
The healthiest meat and egg profiles come from animals raised on pasture. But leave chickens in the same space too long, and, within weeks, it starts looking more like the surface of the moon and less like a green pasture. That’s why it’s important to ask your farmer if there is a rotation plan to keep animals on fresh plots of pasture. This can lower the risk of animal illness and keep the animals happier.
7. What do your animals eat?
Are the cows eating only grain? Do the chickens never get out on fresh pasture? When they do eat grain, is it certified organic? These are all important questions to ask a local farmer who isn’t certified organic. If enough people in your neighborhood are asking these questions, you could play a part in shifting a farmer to more sustainable methods, too.
The Bottom Line
Organic food may contain more antioxidants and nutrients than regular food.
Consuming organic food may also reduce your exposure to artificial chemicals, hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
However, organic certification is not necessarily required for a food to be healthy — especially if you trust the farming practices and/or company.
How to Know if You’re Buying Organic
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set up an organic certification program.
This means any farmer or food producer selling organic food must meet strict government standards.
If you decide to choose organic, it’s important to look for the USDA Organic seal.
Also, watch for these statements on food labels, so you can identify food that is truly organically grown:
- 100% Organic: This product is made entirely from organic ingredients.
- Organic: At least 95% of the ingredients in this product are organic.
- Made with Organic: At least 70% of the ingredients are organic.
If a product contains less than 70% organic ingredients, it cannot be labeled organic or use the USDA seal.
Similar standards are enforced in Europe, Canada and Australia. Each country or continent has its own seal to help consumers identify organic food.
Looking for More Organic Options?
By the way, if you’re looking for Certified USDA Organic options, you can find many great foods and products on the market. But if you’d like to learn more about my new Certified USDA Organic dietary supplement products, then you can click here.