21 Things You Didn’t Know About Organic Food
Before you buy organic or natural foods, see what today’s food experts told us about making smart food choices.
Organic is not about superfoods
A recent Stanford meta-analysis claimed that “eating organic doesn’t give you any health benefits,” which caused a lot of commentary on whether organic was better for you. However, researchers honed in on nutrient makeup without examining pesticide residue and antibiotic resistance. They also left out the bigger picture: Organic farming systems replenish soil and protect important resources like water, compared to conventional farming which can contaminate soil and water with chemicals and nitrogen. Here are some delicious spring superfoods you need in your diet.
You can’t rinse off pesticides from conventional produce
Washing conventional produce doesn’t remove all its pesticides and transform it into organic. Rinsing might wash some pesticides from the food’s surface but not from within the flesh. (Washing does remove food-borne-illness pathogens, so don’t skip it.) This is the best way to wash pesticides off your produce.
Processed food that’s organic is still processed food
If a food comes out of a box and is labeled organic, it means it’s healthier only in that it was minimally produced without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation. And you can feel good that workers, animals, and the environment were all treated better in the process. However, it might not be nutritionally better for you! Learn which foods are still junk food even if they’re organic.
“Conventional” farming isn’t sustainable
Chemical fertilizers are only so successful in controlling pests before they develop tolerances. Then, new stronger formulas need to be developed, which eventually taps out our soils. The short-term gains of conventional farming (ie, cheaper prices) are actually reducing our chances to return to organic methods.
Organic seeds are in danger
Four of the world’s largest agrochemical companies own a whopping 50% of the world’s farmed seeds—and they aren’t breeding them for organic conditions. Just as we need to think about the soils, we also need to think about the seeds; conserving and developing crop genetic diversity is essential.
Less than 1% of all American crops are organic
Based on the most recent data collected from Organic-World.Net, only .6% of American crops are organic and without genetic modification.
Organic crops are less likely to be buggy
Because the soil is nourished by natural methods, the crops are better equipped to resist disease and insects. When pests get out of hand, organic farmers rely on natural options like insect predators, traps, and mating disruption to get rid of them and restore balance to their land. This is the (gross) truth about how many insects are in your food.
“Organic” doesn’t mean 100% organic
According to the USDA, unless it says “100% organic,” any item labeled “organic” only needs 95% of its ingredients to have been organically grown. Also, some ingredients are exempt from the definition because they are “too difficult to source organically,” including foods using sausage castings, some coloring, celery powder, and fish oils. Here are some “healthy” food habits that you should actually avoid.
Calling your food “natural” is easier than getting an “organic” seal of approval
Organic foods undergo intense USDA regulations: No synthetic fertilizers, synthetic growth and breeding hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs; any pesticides used must be natural. It takes three years, and thousands of dollars in fees, for farms to go organic. Once certified, farmers get regular inspections, keep detailed logs and must stay prepared for surprise visits to test their soil and water. “Natural” foods don’t have such rigorous scrutiny. Here’s how to decipher the most confusing words on food labels.