Eating organic foods is a great addition to a healthy diet. It also benefits the environment by encouraging the use of renewable resources and limiting the use of harmful chemicals. Over the past few years, due to a dramatic surge in consumer interest, many new organic foods have become available. This rapid growth has also caused some confusion about what “organic food” really means. To help you and your family better understand this trend, here is a simple course in “Organics 101.”
Organic food is produced without using pesticides. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. To be certified organic, farmers must refrain from using pesticides or chemicals for three years. Independent agencies inspect the farm, equipment and food processing facilities to ensure the information is accurate.
Nutritionally, there is not much difference between the amount of vitamins and minerals found in organic and nonorganic food. But organic foods don’t have the risk of chemical residues.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, labeling organic products can be complex. Items using only organically grown ingredients can be labeled “100% organic.” If products use 95% or greater organically produced ingredients, they can use the label “organic.” Only these two categories can display the USDA Organic seal.
The best thing you can do for your diet is to prepare meals using fresh fruits, vegetables and whole foods. By adding organic items to your menu, you will also be adding an additional beneficial step to your plan for healthy living.