It’s long been a source of contention on whether or not organic foods are better for you than non-organic foods. If you’ve been thinking of making the switch to organic food, or at least incorporate more organic items into your diet, you’re probably wondering why you should shell out the extra cash.
What Is Organic Farming?
Labeling something “organic” comes with a slew of conditions. Mainly, you probably think of organic farming in regards to what it isn’t allowed. Organic farmers don’t use synthetic pesticides/fertilizers/herbicides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Animals used in organic farming are never fed animal by-products, and they aren’t cooped up in small, inhumane cages. Processed foods like cereals or breads don’t have chemical preservatives or synthetic additives like dyes.
But organic farming also incorporates a lot of good practices. Organic farmers believe in the use of natural products, but they also strive to take care of the Earth. They’ll utilize crop rotation to naturally nourish the soil because plants grown in healthy soil require less maintenance and suffer from fewer pests and diseases. Animal wastes are carefully stored and/or composted to protect nearby water systems and avoid polluting the air. Crops are grown according to the local climate to improve their natural growth cycle and reduce the need for fertilizers. Many organic farmers also thrive on biodiversity, meaning they grow a variety of crops or animals. All of this combined prevents harmful soil erosion, improves energy conservation, and protects the local biology.
When you think of organic farming, you might only think of the implications on your family’s health, but it’s good to be reminded how the planet is positively impacted with organic farming practices.
Learning to Read the Label
According to Glatt Organics, any product that’s labeled “organic” has to be USDA certified. The only producers who are exempt from this are farms who sell less than $5,000 a year in food; however, they still have to follow the USDA’s standards. If a food item has a USDA Organic label, it means the food has been made and processed in accordance with the USDA standards.
When you’re shopping, keep a few things in mind. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, and other one-ingredient foods are considered 100 percent organic with the USDA organic label. Multi-ingredient foods (cereals, for example) are 100 percent organic if all ingredients are organic. To be considered for an organic label, they have to be made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients, while foods that are only 70 percent organic can only say “made with organic ingredients”. Remember that just because “organic” is on the label, doesn’t mean every bit of the food is organic. If you’re dedicated to keeping your family on organic food, the Mayo Clinic suggests always reading labels carefully while understanding the USDA labeling system.
Organic foods can be a great addition to your family’s nutrition. Not only are you providing healthy food for your family, you’re also supporting practices that will encourage a healthier, happier Earth.