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Organic Food Showdown

You love your family, so it’s only right to want to feed them the best. That’s where organic food comes in. This method of cultivating food has gained massive amounts of press lately. And, here’s why.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal, plus the ''100 percent organic'' or ''Organic'' wording.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal, plus the ”100 percent organic” or ”Organic” wording.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

As previously stated, we hear the term “organic” tossed around a lot, but what does it really mean? The word organic refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products. This includes fruits, dairy products, vegetables, grains and meat, as well.

Another way organic farmers bring goodness to our tables, is by spraying pesticides from natural sources and by using beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease. They also apply natural fertilizers, like compost or manure, to feed soil and plants. Giving animals organic feed and allowing them access to the outdoors and using preventive measures, such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing, to help minimize disease are other ways farms protect our food.

Now, let’s learn more about what it does for the environment; organic farming practices are implemented to encourage soil and water conservation, thereby reducing pollution. And, farmers who grow organic produce and meat do not use traditional methods to control weeds or prevent livestock disease. A great example of this, is that rather than using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers may conduct more sophisticated crop rotations and spread manure or mulch to keep weeds at bay.

When we think of the whole organic versus inorganic debate, many of the conventional ways we receive our food comes to mind. Conventional ways our food is brought to us are by the use of synthetic herbicides to manage weeds and by the application of chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth. Spraying synthetic insecticides to reduce pests and disease and give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth, are among the ways in which inorganic food is delivered, too.

The Stamp of Approval

It’s important that food be labeled properly, therefore, the The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet stringent government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are handled, grown and processed, also.

Just in case you are wondering, any product labeled as organic must be USDA certified. And, only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification. They, regardless, are still required to follow the USDA’s standards pertaining to organic foods.

What about if a food bears a USDA Organic label? This means the product is processed, produced and is in alignment with the USDA’s standards. Moreover, the seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it. Completely organic items; you know, your fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods, are labeled “100 percent organic” and can carry the USDA seal of approval.

On the flip-side of things, foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal, plus the “100 percent organic” or “Organic” wording. This solely depends on the number of organic ingredients that is contained in the product. When can a product use the organic term? Oddly enough, products must be at least 95 percent organic in order to be allowed to use this terminology.

Researchers deduced that organically and conventionally produced food are comparable in their nutrient content.

Researchers deduced that organically and conventionally produced food are comparable in their nutrient content.

That’s not all; products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can say that they are “made with organic ingredients.” This must only be done on the label and these products can not use the seal. For good measure, foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t use the seal or the word “organic” on their product labels. They may include the organic items in their ingredient list, though.

Question and Answer Time

Here’s an age-old question: Is organic food actually more nutritious than inorganic food? The answer to this question remains unclear. A recent study did however, examine the past 50 years’ of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. Researchers deduced that organically and conventionally produced food are comparable in their nutrient content.

You may have noticed the expensive price tag that comes along with your favorite organic cut of beef. Organic foods are said to cost more than do their counterparts because of its far more expensive farming practices. Take this into consideration, organic fruits and vegetables aren’t treated with preservatives or waxes, so they may expire faster than those that do. Some organic produce may look less than perfect than their counterparts. How so? Well, they may come in odd shapes, varying colors or smaller sizes. Overall, organic foods are not exempt from the same quality and safety standards as those of conventional foods; in fact, organic products must adhere to the same criteria as traditional foods.

All In a Days’ Shopping

Whether you prefer organic or inorganic food, it’s totally up to you, as there are many pros and cons to both. One con of not purchasing organic is that you can avoid the high costs when it comes to food; those who are frugal in nature may not think twice about buying these items.

Pros of purchasing organic food are: First, according to the USDA, organic produce carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than does conventional produce. Second, organic farming practices are created to benefit the environment, by lessening pollution and conserving water and soil quality, too. Third, according to Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (Mayo Clinic), organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods. This includes preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings and monosodium glutamate.

Eating and Eating

With so many options from which to choose, nearly everyone looks forward to eating. Which type of food do you opt for at the checkout counter, organic or inorganic?

Web Links:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255;

http://www.rsc.org/get-involved/hot-topics/organic-vs-non-organic/;

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/organic-food-no-more-nutritious-than-conventionally-grown-food-201209055264

-Kimberly Williams

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