Not too long ago organic food was only found at specialty and health food stores or at farmer’s markets on the weekends. In most cases anything organic was priced above other foods and was marketed to upscale consumers. Fast forward to today and organic foods are now available in most grocery stores and consumers are swamped with assurances that, by paying more for organic products, we are being responsible citizens helping to heal a battered planet. All this leaves the question of what makes food organic in the first place?
Given that organic foods can cost as much as twice as much as other food, it pays to be strategic in what organic products you purchase. To that end food experts recommend focusing your organic purchases on the foods you eat most frequently and on produce.
Produce like Apples, Peaches, Celery, Strawberries, Nectarines, and others tend to accumulate pesticides used in commercial farming and are great choices for buying organic. These types of organic produce are exposed to far less pesticides (if any at all) and are usually fresher because they have been locally grown.
Other produce that are good bets for organic purchasing include:
· Pears (Fruit fact: Pears are second only to Apples in rankings for the most popular fruit in the U.S.)
· Grapes (avoid any imported grapes)
· Leafy greens such as Spinach and Lettuce (depending on where you live you might even be able to successfully grow your own)
· Potatoes: Organic is a much better choice as conventionally grown potato crops are very pesticide intensive.
Since we all like to save money, here are some produce choices that can be safely purchased because they are not subject to heavy pesticide exposure during cultivation:
What Makes Food Organic?
To be considered “organic” a product must meet specific standards set by the Federal Government and labeled accordingly. These are the standards for what makes food organic and what they mean:
· “100% Organic” To qualify a food must not have any synthetic ingredients
· “Organic” A food with this label has no less than 95% organic ingredients
· “Made with organic ingredients” This claim requires no less than 70& organic.
· Dairy products, milk, eggs as well as meat and poultry can be labeled as “organic” only if coming from animals that have never been given growth hormones or antibiotics.
Regardless of how you purchase your produce the fact remains that virtually every dietitian says that we do not include enough fruits and vegetables in our meal planning. Even if you cannot afford, or don’t have access to organic, the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables are much greater than the potential health risks of pesticide exposure from non-organic produce. So, even if you are being very conscientious about what makes food organic, don’t skimp on fruits and veggies!