Organic food: Why should you choose it?

It wasn’t that long ago that organic products were relegated to specialty stores or very small sections of your favorite grocery store. Not anymore.

A growing number of people see organic products as a way to choose a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their families, whether they are purchasing fruits and vegetables, meat or other products.

What does organic mean?

Official definitions of organic depend on the agency certifying something as organic. Different countries may have different definitions, but in general it means fruits, vegetables, botanicals, meat, dairy items and other products are produced in a way that is free from chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones or GMOs.

Consumers can look for logos and seals touting a product’s certified organic status, which is only awarded after third-party verification that the rigorous organic standards have been met.

The USDA Organic seal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, means a product has met strict standards for organic growing, processing and handling and that 95% or more of the product’s content is organic. So why is organic a good buy?

1. Organic farming is better for the earth

Organic farms are considered to be better for the environment than conventional farms. They tend to grow a wider variety of plants, use natural composting, rotate crops regularly and take measures to prevent topsoil erosion.

2. Organic food has fewer pesticides

One thing that makes organic foods so attractive to people trying to make healthy food choices is that organic products contain fewer pesticides.

While some organic farmers may use natural-based or alternative pest control methods, commercial pesticides are not used on organic crops. Because of this, people perceive organic products to be cleaner and healthier, and less likely to pass synthetic chemicals into someone’s body.

3. Organic food is non-GMO

All products labeled certified organic are non-GMO, but all non-GMO products are not necessarily organic.

“GMO” means a genetically modified organism – anything whose genetic material has been altered using a genetic engineering technique. Certain GMO field crops are being genetically altered to make them more resistant to insects, for example, while some types of GMO fruits and vegetables are being changed to give them longer shelf lives in the grocery store.

4. Organic food is fresher

As we mentioned above, some food crops are being genetically modified to increase their shelf life, meaning they can remain in the grocery store for sale longer than their non-GMO counterparts.

And all produce begins losing nutrients as soon as it’s harvested. Since organic foods don’t contain preservatives, they’re sold or preserved at the peak of their natural freshness. They have not been genetically altered to stay on your store shelves for a few extra weeks. That means there has been less time to lose those nutrients you’re looking for.

5. Organic food is more nutritious

Ongoing research is suggesting that organic produce contains more nutrients than its conventionally grown counterparts and likely has less harmful substances.

And while many organic fruits and vegetables are not quite as picture perfect as what you might see in the grocery store from conventional farms that use multiple treatments to ensure their beauty, those unsightly scars and misshapen lobes could actually indicate healthful benefits.

6. Organic food is not a mystery

Today more than ever before, consumers are looking for information about what they are consuming and they expect transparency from companies making and selling the products.

The rigorous hoops and hurdles that must be jumped through and over to obtain the certified organic seal can make consumers feel good about the product they are buying. But companies can do more. Consumers have the right to know where their food and ingredients come from, whether or not they seek organic certification – that’s called traceability.

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