If you are on the fence about whether you should go organic, consider all the benefits that organic foods have to offer. Similar to exercise, there just doesn't seem to be a down-side to organic foods. So what exactly is organic food and why has it entered into the vernacular of so many Americans these days?
Here are some basics to keep in mind:
- Organic food is grown as nature originally intended, without the use of artificial flavors and grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
- Organic food is also free from contamination by human or industrial waste, and processed without ionizing radiation or food additives.
- Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize sustainable farming practices and conservation, enhancing environmental quality for future generations.
- If livestock are involved, they must be reared without the routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. Currently the United States and other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic within their borders.
Below you'll find 9 helpful dos and don'ts when going green:
- Look for quality products labeled "USDA Certified Organic." "USDA Certified Organic" means the item has been grown according to strict uniform standards.
- Realize there's a difference between "natural" and "organic." Only products labeled "certified organic" have been certified as meeting USDA organic standards.
- Look for quality organic products at your local grocers. With the sales of organic foods increasing by 17 to 20 percent a year, more grocers are offering a wide variety of organic produce and products, making it easier for customers to incorporate into their diets. Since organic produce isn't treated with preservatives, they're not always the perfect size or shape but the taste more than makes up for any aesthetic imperfections.
- Get your family involved in buying organic products. It doesn't make sense to buy organic food products your family won't eat. So buy favorite fruits, vegetables and organic snacks that they already enjoy eating in their conventional counterpart form.
- Don't pay exorbitant prices for organic foods, meat or produce, but do realize in some cases, organic produce, meat and dairy products may be more expensive than their conventional counterparts.
- Don't think that organic eating just helps you to be healthier. Organic eating allows farmers to better partner with nature rather than altering or controlling natural processes of growing. Organic farming also helps to improve overall soil quality, encourages biodiversity and minimalizes health and occupational hazards to farm workers.
- Don't boil organic vegetables to a mushy state. Boiling any vegetables will dramatically reduce the amount of mineral content in them. However, steaming them until they are just crunchy tender is a great way to enjoy hot organic vegetables with a variety of entrees.
- Don't overlook organic baby food for your little one. Since a baby's body is much more sensitive to toxins than an adult's, the benefits of avoiding additives increase substantially. The elimination of additives and preservatives in organic baby food also quite simply means that there are fewer ingredients to which baby may develop allergies and that digestion of organic baby food is easier.