The organic movement started with good intentions, mainly to promote wholesome food and develop connections between eater and what’s eaten. Mega food companies swooped in and used “organic” as a money-making tool. Today “organic” is overdone, overused and is quite far removed from the movement’s spirit.
Organic ketchup, seriously?! While it started with a pestide-free tomato, it was then rigorously processed in giant factories and then bottled in plastic bottles to sit on shelves for months. Unless we read the ingredient list, it would be very hard to know ketchup even came from tomatoes. Not very organic. But hey, it’s pestide free right?
Organic refers to certain farming, livestock raising and food processing standards. The USDA will certify a product as organic if it upholds to the specific standards.
Organic produce/products: Grown free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, were not treated with irradiation, industrial solvents or chemical additives.
Organic livestock: Born and raised on organic pasture, antibiotics and growth hormone-free, fed organic feed, had unrestricted outdoor access (ie “free range”).
Natural: Pretty much an unregulated claim with super vague guidelines. It’s not interchangeable with organic.
But, heres where this gets tricky. Seeing “organic” isn’t good enough. If eating organic is really important to you and your family, you have to dig further into the label.
Guidelines For Using Organic Claim On Food Labels
100% organic – All ingredients are organic
Organic – 95% of ingredients are organic
Made With Organic Ingredients – 70% of ingredients are organic
If you are going to spend the extra $, make sure you are at least getting organic food – look for “100% organic” and “organic.” Be weary of the claim “made with organic ingredients.”
I like buying organic whenever I can, but it’s all about prioritizing. Don’t waste your money on marketing schemes, like organic Twinkies or canned soups. then again I am not a fan of non-organic Twinkies or canned soup. Instead, save your moolah for real food organic, like produce, dairy and meat.
Certain fruits/vegetables are worth splurging, while others not so much. As a rough rule of thumb the thinner the skin and the lower to the ground it grows, the more pesticide residue. The Enviromental Working Group analyzed the pesticide residue from 53 fruit & veggies. The number #1 offenders were apples, while onions weighed in with the least residue. Check out their full list here.
Here’s a shopping guide to the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15.” Check out this awesome printable version that you can stick in your wallet for quick shopping reference.
Uh oh. Browsing Google images I came across this… terrifying.