Organic is a philosophy and system of production that mirrors the natural laws of living organisms with emphasis on the interdependence of all life. Only foods that meet the criteria determined by the United States Department of Agriculture can be officially designated as organic. The USDA has set the following standards for foods.
- Synthetic pesticides, fungicides or herbicides
- Antibiotics or growth hormones
- Genetically modified organisms or cloning
- Sewage sludge or artificial fertilizers
- Co-mingling of items with non organics in transport, storage or processing of a product
- Land free of chemicals for at least 3 years
- Records, plans and receipts are maintained
- Organically fed livestock
- Outdoor access for animals
- Non-toxic pest management
- Crop rotation, composting and recycling
Are Organic foods healthier or more nutritious?
- The term “organic” can apply to a wide variety of products, from fresh produce to candy and cookies, so it’s important to remember that the rules for maintaining a healthy diet apply whether you choose organic products or conventional products . Just like conventional foods, organic products may be high in fat, sugar and sodium.
- Researchers haven’t found strong evidence of differences in nutrients between organic and conventional foods. However, there may be benefits beyond just the vitamin, mineral and antioxidant levels in a product. Methods of farming or raising animals might make a difference in the quality of produce, meat, milk or eggs.
- In the end, choosing organic or conventional foods is a personal choice. The best way to support good health for you and your family is to fill your plate with whole grains, low fat dairy or a non dairy substitute, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors.
That being said let’s talk about the decisions that we make in feeding ourselves every day. Local or Organic? Grass fed and hormone free for $6.99 /lb, or certified organic for $9.99 /lb. Or whatever is on sale at the grocery store. Obviously the last choice is not a very good one. Remember let’s use our common sense. Many times “on sale” means discounted prices for product that has not sold. Believe me, it has not sold for a reason. For the sake of this discussion, we won’t discuss all of the reasons at this time. However when you weigh all of the decisions that should be made in your food choices, it’s enough to drive you crazy.
Returning to our initial comments about organic vs regular milk. Organic milk is twice the price of regular. Is it worth it? I’m not sure why, but I do know that it tastes better and I am pretty sure that a product that is raised hormone and chemical free is better for our health.
Now here are some bullet points to help you make your own decisions.
- 85% to 95% of the cows in the U.S. are raised in confinement and not pasture.
- Bi-weekly hormone injections are standard practice for the dairy industry.
- These injections allow farmers to milk their cows three times a day as opposed to twice a day (super producers).
- Emphasis is put on quantity and not quality and the nutritional content has suffered.
We encourage you to take a look at the facts for yourself. As a good resource check out www.localharvest.org They are a non profit unaffiliated organization where you can get reliable information.
We will leave you with this quote from Michael Sligh, who is the Program Director for Just For Food, RAFI-USA. “Would you rather pay for your food just once or four times? In our globalized, industrialized, and subsidized food system, we end up paying for our food four times over. Once at the grocery store. Again with our every increasing diet related health care costs. Again with the harm done to the environment. And again with our taxes to subsidize the whole system which includes agricultural subsidies, transportation subsidies, health care subsidies, and subsidies for other social services. “