Going Organic has been one of the most popular health food trends for a number of years now. If you’re familiar at all with our chefs, you know that we don’t follow trends; we make them.
“Organic” labels have increased tenfold in popularity in recent years. You’d have to be living under a rock to not notice the increase in health food stores and all natural sections of local supermarkets. Organic “health” foods stereotypically carry a larger price tag than their conventional counterparts. What the hype? Our nature is not to hop on the bandwagon with the masses, but to see for ourselves what’s worth spending our budget on. We breakdown whether the organic is critical for your health or just an adjective to increase shelf price in the grocery store.
What does the “Organic” label actually mean?
- “100% Organic”: Can only contain organic ingredients, meaning NO antibiotics, hormones, genetic engineering, radiation or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers can be used. Can display the USDA organic logo and/or the specific certifying agent’s logo.
- “Organic”: Contains 95% organic ingredients, with the balance coming from ingredients on the approved National List. These products can also display the USDA organic logo and/or the certifier’s logo.
- “Made with Organic Ingredients”: Must be made with at least 70% organic ingredients, three of which must be listed on the package, and the balance must be on the National List. These products may display the certifier’s logo but not the USDA organic logo
Sizing Up the Competition:
Organic is less about what you’re getting in a product (there are similar levels of nutrients in the products) and more about what you’re NOT getting (harmful chemicals and pesticides).
Organic meat, eggs, and dairy are a must when they can be afforded. Their conventional counterparts can contain: antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, and arsenic-based drugs. None of which we recommend including in your diet.
For fruits and vegetables, the Environmental Working Group has tested and assessed the most popular produce items available to U.S. consumers and have come up with the “dirty dozen” (things you almost definitely should buy organic) and the “clean fifteen” (produce items you’re probably alright to buy conventional).
The “Dirty Dozen”, conventional produce that has been tested to have the highest levels of pesticides and toxins. Buy Organic!!
- Sweet bell peppers
- Hot peppers
The “Clean Fifteen” are produce items that tend to have the least pesticide residues. If you’re on a budget, you can save and buy conventional.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet frozen peas
- Honeydew melon
So... to answer our original question, there are definitely times when it is important to choose organic. However, it is clearly not a make or break for many foods as well. Keep this information handy so you can make the best choices for you and your kitchen.