ORGANIC FOOD 101: You’ve seen the label ‘organic’ for years now, but what does this really mean and what are the benefits to you and your family?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the word ‘organic’ references the way farmers grow and process agricultural products. Organic farming practices are designed to address several factors, such as pest and weed control, usage of additives, animal habitats and treatment, pollution, and more.
For produce to be certified as organic, it must have been grown on soil that has been free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for at least 3 years. For meat to carry the organic certification, the animals must be raised in living conditions that allow them to continue their natural behaviors, fed natural, GMO-free foods, and cannot be given hormones or antibiotics. Finally, when it comes to processed organic foods, they must be free of artificial preservatives, food coloring, or flavors.
Over the years, research has shown potential health benefits of eating organic, such as an increase in nutrients, like Vitamin C, iron, and magnesium, in produce and an increase in omega-3 fatty acids in organic meat due to feeding requirements for the animal. Additionally, crops grown organically have shown lower levels of pesticide residue due to fertilization practices and lower levels of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that can affect the liver and kidneys.
Organic foods are more expensive than traditional foods and are a factor that hinders many from opting to go fully organic. However, depending on your family’s financial situation or health requirements, it may be worth the additional cost.