One stroll through the grocery store aisles and it’s easy to see that organic products are more popular than ever. We know that buying organic is better for the environment and our bodies, but with a tight budget and confusion about the benefits to organic products, it’s easy to put it off until “next time.” How do we know when it pays to reach for the organic label? Read on for the basics.
Why Should I Buy Organic?
“Buying organic” means selecting foods and products that have been produced without the use of harmful pesticides and in a manner that promotes a sustainable agricultural system. Organic foods also protect you from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. While genetically modifying a food’s DNA can help defend it from disease, make it hardier, or help it look or taste better, it is not yet known whether these foods are safe for people or the environment. Since labeling of GMOs is not required, the only way to ensure that you are not eating them is to look for the USDA Organic seal on packaging.
What Should I Buy Organic?
Some people choose to make all of their food purchases organic, but when budget or availability is an issue, consult the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, which includes the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists: 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables.
The “Dirty Dozen”
- Bell Peppers
- Grapes (Imported)
The “Clean 15”
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
How Do I Know it is Organic?
It may seem safe to venture into the organic section of the grocery store, where labels show words like “organically grown,” “organic, “all natural,” and “no artificial ingredients”. However, only labels that say “certified organically grown” mean the food was grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the USDA Organic seal to know you are making a smart choice. Marketing labels can be deceiving, look for the seal to make sure that you are buying a truly organic product, not just paying more for a fancy package!
Read more about decoding food labels to add a healthy dose of organic know-how to your next shopping list!