To Go Organic or Not

The following definition of
"organic" was passed by the NOSB at its April 1995 meeting in
Orlando, FL.

"Organic agriculture is an ecological
production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity,
biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of
off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance
ecological harmony.

 

OK, so that is the official
definition.  Unofficially, this is
what organic really means; “Organic” on a label means that no artificial
substances were used in production of the food and that the highest quality of products
were used.  If a label states “organic”,
you can trust that there are none of
the following in the product:           

§  Artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners

§  Trans-fats/Partially hydrogenated oils

§  MSG

§  Bleached flour

§  Synthetic hormones

§  Antibiotics

§  Nitrates

And there is a reduced amount of:

§  Pesticides/Herbicides

However, it is important to
note that a product does not have to be labeled organic in order to uphold to
the same criteria.
  There are many products on the market
that are not “certified” organic but are essentially the same as the organic
version. 

Organic certification is a
controversial topic.  Organics do
cost more money and opponents of the system state it is turning into "big business";  getting
certified is more political than anything else.  It is very difficult to
get certified, so many farmers do not have the means to do it. However, they
believe in the same principles and run their farms based on those common
principles.  But some farmers don’t
share those principles and see nothing wrong with chemicals and hormones being
used.  As a consumer, you may not
know the good ones from the bad ones, so the organic label helps you know.  However, the “quasi-organic” farmers,
as I will call them, can also be found just by looking at the label. 

§  Does the label state “no artificial
hormones ever used” (or something like that)?< /span>

§  Does the label state “vegetarian-fed” diet?

§  Do the foods come from a local farmer? 

These are clues to help you
decide.  Usually, milk does not
have to be organic if the label states that hormones are not used.  Most local milk is
“quasi-organic”.    A meat label may
state “naturally raised without the use of synthetic hormones”, but not be
certified organic.  Often times, farmers will not use any growth hormones or antibiotics for growth purposes, but may give an animal an antibiotic if they become ill.  This is completely understandable, however, once they treat the animal with an antibiotic, they can not claim organic status.  These items are
perfectly acceptable and you do not need to pay the extra $$ for the
“certified” label. 

If you buy organics, you know
what you are getting is made with healthy ingredients.  You don’t have to read the label with a
magnifying glass.  However, because
they are more expensive you may be able to get the same healthy foods without
having to buy organic.  Here is a
list of helpful tips: 

When you should buy organic: 

§  Pre-Boxed or Pre-Packaged Meals:  Foods like frozen dinners, quick-fix
meals, macaroni and cheese in a box, etc… (However, you can sometimes find
non-organics that do not contain the “bad stuff”.§  Canned Soup

§  Packaged desserts (cookies, granola bars)

§  Vegetable Shortening

§  Bacon, Hot dogs

§  Meats:yes”>    Just make sure the meat is
labeled and states that no artificial substances or hormones were used.  You will get quality meat and save
yourself the additional cost of the organic label.

§  Fruits and vegetables that contain edible
skin or edible exteriors.  However,
you can always wash fruits and veggies with soap and water to remove waxes and
chemicals. It is better to buy organic, but if you can’t find organic, buy
conventional and wash thoroughly. 
Check fruits for freshness and always try to buy in season or from local
farms, when possible. Fruits and veggies out of season can be quite nasty
tasting, especially foods like corn on the cob or berries. 

When you can buy “quasi-organic”:  

§  Meats

§  Deli Meat (ask for store-baked).  Avoid highly-processed meats (salami,
bologna, pepperoni or pre-packaged brands)

§  Milk (Big Y brand states all natural/no
hormones, so does Hood)  Check your
label.

 

color:black”>

  

Buying organic is a personal
decision that one makes. I cannot make that decision for you; however I can
recommend when I think it is in the best interest of your health to do so, as I
have done in the above paragraph.  
You may decide that it is not worth it to buy organic, you may decide to
buy some organic items or you may decide to go completely organic; the choice
is yours. I have compiled a list of general pros/cons to buying organics.


in support of purchasing organic:

 

1.    
 It is easier to maintain your health
because you know you are only eating nutritious foods full of vitamins,
minerals, fiber, natural fats (not synthetic ones), hormone-free proteins and
whole grain carbohydrates.



2.    
You
can help ensure that your metabolism will go undisturbed as it is no longer
being taken over by chemicals that alter your body’s natural biochemistry.   This is crucial for maintaining
or losing weight.



3.    
You
know you can easily avoid trans-fats, MSG, high saturated fats, high sugar
contents, high-fructose corn syrup, etc… If the label states organic.

 

4.    
 We live in a supply and demand economy
meaning price is dictated by quantity sold.  By purchasing
organic products, you are actually helping to lower their price and make these foods
available to more people.



5.    
It
makes a political statement that you support natural foods and health; that you
support local and organic agriculture.  Manufacturers make what the consumers
demand; create the demand!



6.    
You
can help avoid diseases such as mad-cow, salmonella and other food-borne
illnesses.

 

7.    
Organic
farming allows animals to live “free-range” and they are treated much better
than in factory-farms. 

against buying organic

 

1.    
Organic
farming is more expensive than conventional farming.2.    
There
are a lot of politics involved and many argue that the rules for being
certified are too strict and skew the truth about conventional farming.



3.    
It
can be too expensive to buy organics and many cannot afford to do this.  As long as you clean your fruits and
veggies well and buy meats that do not come from large factories, you can save
yourself the additional cost.



4.    
A
cookie is a cookie, regardless of whether or not the sugar is organic.
J



5.    
Labels
can be deceptive and many foods that are not organic are still full of
nutritional value.
  


6.    
Organics
can be hard to find, depending on where you shop or where you live.

7.    
Most
people like to eat foods throughout the year, not just when in season.

8.    
Homemade
foods can be all natural at a low cost. 


9.    
Quasi-organics,
or natural foods, can be much more economical and are just as good as their
“certified” versions.

10.  It is better to buy local produce that is not organic than to buy organic produce that needs to be shipped from far away places.   

  if you can afford organics for the
products I recommend above; do it. 
If you can’t, don’t stress out about it.yes”> 

  It is taking time, but they are
becoming more main-stream.  COSTCO
is now carrying a wide variety of organics at prices that are a steal compared
to grocery store prices…check them out.

 

 

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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