So what is all the fuss about organic foods? Is it really better for you or just another marketing trick by farmers to get more money from the consumer?
If you look at organic spinach and conventionally grown spinach side-by-side, you won’t see a difference. So, why are organic foods more expensive than regular foods, and are they worth the higher price tag? To answer this question for yourself, it’s important to understand how organic foods and conventionally grown foods differ. This condensed guide will tell you everything you need to know about organic food and how it’s grown.
A food must be grown under certain conditions and meet stringent qualifications to be labeled “organic”. Some substances and practices are not permitted for use in organic farming, including synthetic fertilizers, almost all synthetic pesticides, genetic engineering, antibiotics, or irradiation preservation techniques. Farmers who raise livestock for organic meat must provide healthy living conditions for the animals, including organic food without hormones or antibiotics.
If a food is labeled “100 percent organic,” all of the components must be organic. If the label simply says “organic,” it means that at least 95 percent of the ingredients, excluding salt and water, are organic. “Made with organic…” means that at least 70 percent of the ingredients are organic. Finding organic food growers to meet these qualifications can be limited in places like Texas; however, a Houston nutritionist says that organic farming in Texas is on the rise as popularity and demand increases.
The goal of strict organic farming regulations is to provide healthy, non-contaminated food to consumers, reduce pollution, provide healthy livestock habitats, enhance water and soil quality, and promote self-sustaining farm resources. It is important to keep in mind that the words “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. A food product labeled “natural” does not have artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors, but that does not mean it’s organic.
Some people think organic food is worth the extra cost, while others may not. To make this lifestyle decision for yourself, you should consider whether or not it is important for you to consume products that are free from pesticides, antibiotics and/or hormones. You can find organic foods at specialty markets and some supermarkets in limited varieties just about everywhere today.