What is the difference between organic and non-organic produce? Is it worth paying for organic?
Becoming familiar with the labels and understanding its claims, can empower you as a consumers to make informed decisions about the food that you purchase. You vote with your wallet each time you make a purchase. But you may be wondering, what's worth paying for and what's organic vs non-organic anyway? So let's start with the basics.
What is Organic produce?
The USDA certified organic produce are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing soil quality, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods. Food can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organically processed foods require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions. For example, processed organic foods may contain some approved non-agricultural ingredients, like enzymes in yogurt, pectin in fruit jams, or baking soda in baked goods. Packaged products labeled “made with organic ingredient,” imply that they contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients. The remaining non-organic ingredients are produced without using prohibited practices (GMOs, for example) but can include substances that would not otherwise be allowed in 100% organic products. “Made with organic” products will not have the USDA organic seal. You can look for the identity of the certifier on a packaged product for verification that the organic product meets USDA’s organic standards. A five-digit number that starts with a 9 means the item is organic. A four-digit code beginning with a 3 or a 4 means the produce is probably conventionally grown. For example, an organic orange with 94055, vs conventionally grown orange with 4055 code.
Non-organic food often contains cancer-causing hormones, immunity destroying antibiotics and dangerous pesticides. Pesticides by nature are designed to kill. Pesticides can cause neurological problems, cancer, infertility, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, allergies and asthma, wheezing, rashes and other skin problems, ADHD, birth defects and more. That’s why buying quality organic food and eating the most nutritious foods on the planet will ultimately save you medical bills. You always have a choice, you can choose to pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later. You're the consumer and you vote with your wallet each time you make a purchase.
Can you eat organic on a budget? YES! We, as a family, have been doing it for years since joining CSA which is a Community Supported Agriculture. Check your local area for CSA options. Most CSA offers a weekly or bi-weekly box, some offer customized boxes, which costs less than if you purchased organic produce at a local grocery store. Also, when you join a CSA, you'll be reducing food milage, supporting local farmers, and you will know where your food is coming from. Fresh organic produce is much more nutrient dense, it will be picked that day and delivered in a box, and with CSA you get whatever is in season which allows you to diversify food which feeds your microbiome leading to a healthy gut and vitality.
If you don't have access to CSA in your local area, you can use the “Dirty Dozen” lists to help you navigate which products to buy organic. You can opt for conventional produce that isn't on the dirty dozen list and opt for organic that is on the list, you always have a choice. Visit farmers markets and get to know your community. Also, buy in bulk whenever you can. For example, 1lb/kg organic dry black beans may be more expensive than canned non-organic black beans, but from 1lbs/kg of dry black beans you can make four or more times as many canned beans. Buy-online at reputable markets like Thrive Market which have many organic produce options and maybe you'll find something new to try. If you’ve never shopped at Thrive Market before, they’ll give you your first month free so you can try it out, they'll give you 25% off your first order. No code needed to get 25% off, just go to this link. For less expensive organic fruit and vegetable options, don’t rule out the frozen foods section! Fruits and vegetables are typically flash-frozen right after harvest, which means they’ll still pack a nutritional punch. Frozen produce also keeps much longer than fresh produce, so it’s a great option. If you're inspired, you can grow your own food. This is a great way to connect with nature and you will feel empowered knowing where your food is coming from.
There are many resources out there and remember that you have a choice and you vote with your wallet. Hopefully this has inspired you to incorporate at least one organic produce that you or your family eat most often and start there. If you're looking for recipes or additional ideas for how to eat organic on a budget, or how to incorporate organic produce into your meals, please feel free to reach out. You can scheduling a 15min Free Consultation by visiting this link.
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