Eating Organic

Eating Organic

June 10, 2012

“Eating Organic”

Written By: Sandra

Dear Readers:

The word “organic” is widely used more now than ever. But what does “organic” really mean? Organic food means that it is grown using methods that do not involve synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and that do not contain genetically modified organisms. Organic food is not processed using irradiation, which are radioactive materials such as machines that produce high-energy beams. These radioactive beams can be harmful to farm workers, as well as the food. Organic food is not processed using industrial solvents, which are liquid chemicals used to clean products. Organic food is not processed with chemical food additives, which are chemicals that make food taste better and last longer.

In order for a food label to read “organic”, it must be 95% or more organic. It must not include any of the aforementioned chemicals and solvents. In addition, organic food must be raised according to specific farm regulations. For example, the fertilizers must be natural. The crops must be rotated and everything must be hand-weeded (no weed killers). Animal and plant houses must be clean and sanitized (according to specific regulations) to help minimize disease. The animals must be fed with organic feed. The water on the farm must be sanitized to prevent growth of pollution or bacteria.

Research has shown many controversial reports on whether organic foods are really better for you. Research from the University of Copenhagen found that the growing methods for organic food made no difference in the nutrient levels of the crops. This study was published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Other research has shown that organic crops contain and maintain much more nutrients than inorganic. This report was found in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

So how does one determine which is better, with such contradicting reports? Should we eat organic or inorganic foods? My answer is to eat what you are comfortable eating. If you like to eat pesticide-free, chemical-free, and knowing your food was raised in a more sanitized environment, then eat organic. If it makes you feel better knowing that organic food was raised on a farm that is disease-free and that the farm laborers are working in a safe environment, then eat organic. But eat and pay more. Organic food can be expensive. Organic meat has the highest price tag than any other organic food.

As stated earlier, food that is labeled “organic” must be 95% or more organic. This label on organic food is called a “seal”. There are some loop-holes in this industry when it comes to labeling though. For example, any product labeled “organic” must be USDA certified, but producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification. They must still follow USDA standards though. Also, foods that contain more than one ingredient can use the USDA organic seal depending on the number of organic ingredients. In my opinion, this contradicts the “95% or more” rule.

Products that contain at least 70% of organic ingredients may label their products “made with organic ingredients”, but cannot use the USDA organic seal. Foods containing less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the seal or use the word “organic” on their labels. They can, however, include the organic ingredients on their ingredients list.

If you choose not to eat organic foods, please clean your meat, fruit, and vegetables thoroughly. You need to remove the pesticides, any insects, and any other chemicals or bacteria (from handling) on these foods before you eat them.

As always, thank you for tuning in to my weekly articles and have a happy and healthy day!

Sandra

References:

United States Department of Agriculture. Organic Certification. Retrieved from
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ORGANIC_CERTIFICATIO

United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Agricultural Library. Food Labeling: Organic Foods. Retrieved from http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/food-labeling/organic-foods

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