When you shop at the grocery store or supermarket to buy fruits and vegetables, do you pick just any produce or are you particular about eating organic foods? There is a difference between the two and, after our discussion, you may decide that organic foods are the best choice for you and your family. Let’s take a look at the benefits of buying organic produce.
While both kinds of produce may look the same, food grown organically must be able to meet “specific standards” of production, including specific growing and processing conditions that are unique to foods that can be labeled “organic”. For crop foods, the organic foods cannot be grown using any chemical pesticides, non-organic fertilizer, human waste fertilizer or sludge from sewage. They also can’t be processed using ionizing radiation,a process that kills bacteria but that some believe is unsafe. Finally, the food can’t be genetically altered.
At first, these types of food were grown on small farms, particularly those that were family-owned and operated. In our current times, however, now they are grown on larger farms and are more readily available in most supermarkets, co-ops and health food stores. In the US, parts of Europe and Japan, the production of organic food is currently federally regulated and in some countries, specific certification is required before these foods can be sold.
Natural foods can include fresh vegetables and fruits, which have not been processed and come directly from the growers through farmers markets, natural food stores, supermarkets and roadside stands. Many of these products are only available during certain times of the year. Readily available these days are organic eggs, dairy products and meat in their fresh and unprocessed forms. Organic eggs are generally provided by free-range chickens and not from those kept in cages in large, egg factories. Organic meats must not come from animals that have been treated with any growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics.
Some organic food is processed and can be found in a special section of most supermarkets but often are more expensive than their conventional food counterparts. Processed organic products can include canned products, frozen produce, prepared items and even snack foods.
In truth, processed organic foods only need to contain a certain percentage of organic ingredients. In Australia, for example, a food can be labeled “organic” if it contains at least 95% organic ingredients. In other countries, however, the percentage can be less than that. Even so, those non-organic ingredients must be free of artificial food additives and no aspect of the food can be processed using chemical ripening techniques, genetic modification or irradiation. In some cases, the organic food must be made using energy-saving techniques and packaged in recyclable or biodegradable materials.