The term organic refers to the farming practice. Organic farmers use what is naturally available to them to prevent weeds, keep plants healthy, and stimulate growth. Conventional farming uses chemicals and synthetics when caring for their produce.
In organic livestock, animals are given room to roam and graze. Cleaner facilities and organic feed are used to prevent disease while in conventional livestock growth hormones are administered and medications are given to prevent disease.
When looking for organic foods, look for the USDA symbol. If it has this symbol you know it is organic and has to follow strict guidelines set by the USDA in order to use the symbol.
If it has this symbol, at least 95% of the ingredients are organic.
If it doesn’t have this symbol but still says organic then 70-94% of the ingredients are organic. It doesn’t meet the strict guidelines to be allowed the use of the organic symbol but at least a majority of the ingredients are organic.
While the jury is still out on whether or not organic food is more nutritious than conventionally farmed foods there’s no doubt that exposure to pesticides is less when eating organic. Conventionally farmed foods are still within the government safety ratings but with pesticides, it is safe to say less is more.
There are no food additives added to organic produce. These include preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate.
When buying organic, the environment is another aspect to consider. Organic farming practices were made with the environment in mind by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.
With the only downsides to buying organic being the price and shelf life of organic produce, it is worth it to feed your family organic produce. It lessens the consumption of chemicals, pesticides, sweeteners, and preservatives and it is good for the environment.
Some tips to keep costs down when buying organic:
- Stick with local produce as much as possible. It doesn’t travel as far and is therefore usually less expensive
- Stick with what’s in season now. If foods are grown in their natural environment and not an altered environment they cost less for the farmers to grow.
- Only buy what is needed. Try going to the fruit stand or farmer’s markets and buying enough produce for 2-3 days at a time. That will ensure that your food will be consumed before it goes bad.
- Support the farmer’s markets and local CSA boxes. Community Supported Agriculture is growing and is sometimes less expensive than grocery stores.
- Try growing your own produce that your family eats often. Tomatoes, lettuce, and lemon cucumbers are easy to grow. Make it a family affair and have the kids water!