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Going Organic and Going Green!
If you are able to afford buying organic food, it just might be better for your family — and of course our environment!
Often times, we’re torn between buying the perfect looking produce that costs less than the “not so pretty” organic produce. I believe we all need to become informed consumers.
What Makes a Food Organic?
Organic is a term used to identify how farmers grow and process produce (dairy products and meat, as well). These farmers don’t use chemicals to fertilize, kill weeds or to prevent disease. Instead, they believe in nurturing the soil, and use more natural avenues like spreading mulch to keep weeds away and rotating crops to keep the soil free of pests.
There are three levels of organic labeling as listed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Green, “USDA Organic” seal is used if the product is 100% organic;
- Foods simply labeled “Organic” have to be at least 95% organic. The 5% of remaining ingredients must be made up of non-agricultural substances approved and on a National USDA list. This includes non-organically produced products that are not commercially available in organic form.
- Any processed product (i.e. crackers, soup, etc.), labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients” are required to have at least 70% organic ingredients.
- Products with less than 70% organic ingredients can’t use the term “Orgaic” in the main label or any display area of the product — however, they can list the organic ingredients on a detailed information panel.
- Pay close attention and remember that food labeled “all-natural”, “hormone-free”, and “free-range” are NOT organic.
The Pros and Cons or Buying Organic
- Organic farmers are helping save the planet! This is one of the biggest reasons why people may choose to buy organic food. Organic farmers grow their produce in ways that are meant to benefit the environment, reduce pollution and conserve soil and water.
- Most conventional farmers use pesticides. Washing or peeling the skin off fruits and vegetables can help get rid of pesticides, but it may also decrease the nutrition and fiber found in the otherwise edible peels. Some people choose organic food to completely avoid these chemicals. (Experts currently agree that the small amount of pesticides found on produce is harmless.)
- Organic food costs more. Organic farming practices, such as mulching and weeding instead of spraying pesticides, are more expensive — the amount of food produced is usually less.
- Organic food doesn’t always look as perfect. Since organic food is not treated with preservatives or sprayed with wax to extend its shelf life, the vegetables and fruit may be somewhat oddly shaped or colored.
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