GMO free, organic, all-natural, pesticide free, hormone free…where does it end? And how do we know what’s true when it’s so easy to for companies to skirt laws and use loopholes when labeling? When companies prey on our tendency not to ask questions and read carefully, it’s easy to get caught up in bandwagon trends and pay top dollar for items that are no different than boxes that do not contain the phrase “all natural.” Here are a few tips to keep your wallet safe and your body healthy.
Know what organic means. When it comes to crops, organic means that crops are grown without (artificial) pesticides, (artificial) fertilizer, radiation, or biotechnology (GMOs). When it comes to animal products, organic means that animals eat organically grown feed and are not confined for part of the time. It is worth noting that this could mean 10% or 70%. The term “cage free” does not specify the amount of time animals must be out of their cages or confined areas. Organic meat/dairy/eggs are grown with no antibiotics or growth hormones.
Know that Organic is usually IS healthier. Generally speaking, low levels of pesticides are fine for healthy adults. However, they can be harmful to fetuses and infant. However, in the absence of chemicals, you have more access to nutrients and vitamins. Apples are a great example. You can lose up to 80% of the nutritional value without buying organic. It’s not necessarily ‘unhealthy’ but not as nutritious as it could be. When it comes to meat, an excess of antibiotics are never good to have in your own system, as you can and will develop an immunity, making an antibiotic less effective when you actually need them.
Know what to buy and what to skip.
- Fruits with peels, like bananas do need to be organic. Fruits with peels that you eat, like apples, should. Avocados, kiwi, corn onions, pineapples all fall into this category.
- Seafood. The USDA does not provide guidelines for seafood. Instead, look for wild caught with low levels of mercury.
- Quinoa, oatmeal, and other grains
- Maple syrup (which is expensive enough as it is)
- Cabbage already has a low resistance to bugs and therefore low pesticide level
You should definitely buy organic when possible:
- Berries and most fruit without a peel
- Tomato products