I try to encourage people to buy organic foods when they are available. The first excuse I often hear is that they cost more and that groceries already cost way too much. Another thing I hear is that my small effort will not make a difference, so why even bother? I also heard from one person that her spouse had read that everything that was labeled organic foods was not necessarily so. Is that true and, if so, how does a person know if he or she is really getting organic foods? There are alot of questions out there, so why buy organic foods? Read on!
These all seem like valid concerns, so I thought I would create the following FAQs to address these issues.
1. How can you be sure that food labeled "organic" are really organic? Use of the term "organic" is regulated by the United States government. In order to put the word "organic" on a food label, the farmer must get the product certified as organic by a USDA-accredited certifier. Those who falsely label or sell non organic foods as "organic" can be fined up to $11,000 for each violation.
2. What exactly does the word "organic" mean? On a food label, "organic" means the food was produced without pesticides or fertilizers, sewage, genetic engineering or irradiation. In the case of animal products, it also means the animal received no antibiotics or hormones and was fed organic feed containing no animal by-products. An organic label also means animals had access to outdoor facilities.
3. Is some food with an "organic" label more organic than others? Yes, among processed foods with multiple ingredients, those displaying the USDA organic seal have at least 95 percent organic content. Those labeled "made with organic ingredients" on the front may be as little as 70 percent organic. (The latter example can not be displayed the USDA's organic seal, but may be displayed with the logo of the certifying agent.)
4. Are organic foods better for the environment? Yes. By eliminating large amounts of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers used in farming, organic methods can help protect the health of our air, water and soil. It also does not add to the problem of antibiotic resistance, which makes antibiotics ineffective for treating illnesses in human beings. Antibiotic use in organically-raised animals is not allowed.
5. Are organic foods safer for us to eat? Yes. Unlike conventionally produced food, you to no synthetic pesticides or growth hormones. Many of these substances have been proven to cause cancer, birth defects and damage to the nervous and reproductive systems in animal studies (although at higher levels than commonly found in food). What has not been studied yet is whether or not exposure to low levels of these substances may also have adverse health effects. In the absence of this information, the best course of action is not to expose yourself to chemicals designed and proven to kill other life forms. This is especially true for children, as their developing body systems put them at much greater risk of harm than adults.
6. Are organic foods worth the extra money? Yes, in the sense that you really do get extra value in the form of safer food that is better for the environment. You might not be able to afford a regular diet of organic foods. If so, try picking and choosing your organic purchases. A study by the Environmental Working Group of 43 fruits and vegetables shows that you can reduce your pesticide exposure from produce by up to 90 percent by avoiding the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead.
7. Will your purchases make a difference? Yes. The reason organic foods are now the fastest-growing sector of the food industry is that consumers have shown that they want it. There is no other way to promote this concept than by buying it and encouraging others to do the same.
8. Are organic foods always the best choice? No. Conventional food that is grown close to you may be a better choice than organic foods grown 1,000 miles away. Why? Because transporting food a short distance causes much less global warming pollution. That local farm is also preserving open space in your area and contributing to your local economy.
Why buy organic food? I hope you have learned alot of important reasons in the information above. Healthy choices mean healthy living. Healthy organic foods also mean healthy living.