To Organic or Not To Organic
When people decide to get healthy and eat clean the very first thing that most people usually do is give up meat. Mostly red meat, but sometimes also pork, chicken, and seafood. After the meat goes, it’s usually the desire to eat organic. The question is always, “to organic, or not to organic?” One big reason why people choose to go organic is because they believe that organic is the ULTIMATE version of ‘healthy’. The reason most people don’t actually go organic is because it can be more costly, unfortunately. But other people will weigh the risks vs the benefits and decide to go organic. So, what should you do? Let’s explore.
But What is Organic?
First, let’s talk about what organic is NOT! Organic does not mean the same as “Healthy”. There is no guarantee that something that is organic is going to be healthier than something that is not. This is where the controversy lies with regard to whether or not we should eat organic or not. The reality is that understanding whether or not something is healthier for you is more nuanced. It is much more than putting a word or a label on it.
The official USDA definition of organic is this:
- Produce: fruits and veggies are labeled organic when they have been proven to be grown in soil that had no “prohibited substances” for at least 3 years prior to harvest. This means that in general, no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were used to grow the food.
- Meats: organic meats were “raised in living conditions that accommodating their natural behaviors”, were allowed to forage for some portion of their food, was given organic feed, and is free from antibiotics and hormones. This means that the cow, for example, was allowed to graze on some grass, and was given organic food while not being injected with antibiotics or any kind of hormones.
Is Organic Healthier?
Organic is definitely a healthier option. In my opinion, it is food the way it was intended. When food is not grown with extra chemicals or tampering (genetically modifying it) then it’s easier for your body to recognize it and process it to get the nutrients out.
Organic foods MAY have more nutrients, but how much nutrition that is in a food depends on the soil that it was grown in (healthier soil makes healthier foods) as well as when it was harvested (vine-ripened foods generally have more foods and better flavor than those that were picked un-ripe and ripened on the shelf).
Isn’t it more expensive?
Many times organic foods are more expensive, but there are many factors that contribute to this.
- Organic certification is a costly process. The farmers that do it have to pay a LOT of money to get that designation, so it is passed down to the consumer, YOU.
- A big reason your conventionally grown food is usually less expensive is because it has been subsidized by the government. Meaning that the government pays the farmer for part of your food. This doesn’t happen with organic foods so you have to pay ALL the costs. Not just the remaining cost after subsidization.
- Food is supposed to have an expiration date. Since it does, that means that your food that it grown without certain chemicals will likely go bad before the other type (and that’s not a bad thing!)
- Food is often eaten out of season. If the season for a food is not now, then it will be more expensive because it has to be shipped from further away. You are basically paying shipping and handling for that fresh fruit in December that only grows in the Summer.
These are just a few reasons why organic food seems to be so much more expensive than other. There are ways that you can begin incorporating more Organic foods into your diet without breaking the bank. Stay tuned for the “Dirty Dozen, Clean 15” blog post coming soon!
Do you incorporate organic foods into your diet on a regular basis? Why or why not?