For the past few years, “going Organic” has been all the rage.  Organic produces has a lot of benefits. Still,  many people s don’t know what those benefits are, or how it works.  Eating an organic diet isn’t just a trendy fad – it’s very a very healthy way to go.  Add to that it’s also better for the environment.  So if you haven’t given it a shot, you should.  Here’s how.

How to go Organic: The Basics

 

To start with the very simplest point here for those who don’t know, going organic refers to the idea of changing your eating patterns from what they are now (whatever they may be) to only consuming foods that are produced using the most natural and safe processes. (definition of organic)

The basic idea is that if we eat only organic foods, it is healthier for both ourselves and the environment because we’re growing foods in a “natural” way and we end up consuming foods that have less risk of being contaminated by toxic substances: hormones, insecticides, pesticides, etc.

Organic Lingo: How to Read labels

The following are a few of the main labels you’ll see when looking for organic foods.  Knowing what they mean can help you stay healthier by choosing options that are more natural, legitimate, and worth the money.  Side bonus: you’ll help the environment.

  1. “Made with Organic ingrediets” – the food is at least 70% organic.
  2. “Organic” – the food is at least 95% organic.
  3. “100% Organic” – the food is completely organic.
  4. “Free-Range” – the flock was raised humanely: with access to food, water, and the outdoors.
  5. “Natural” – the food has no artificial ingredients (this label doesn’t say anything about farming practices, though).
  6. “Grass-Fed” – the food comes from animals who received their nutrients from grass versus grains.  This label doesn’t regulate the use of antibiotics or hormones.
  7. “Cage-free” – the flock was allowed to roam free with unrestricted access to food and water.
  8. “Humane” – this label is not regulated and therefore has little meaning.
  9. “Pasture-Raised” – this notation is not regulated yet by the USDA.

Producing organic foods is also more sustainable according to proponents of organic eating.  That’s because when we make organic foods we are able to utilize renewable resources and sustainable farming methods which result in less environmental pollution.  Traditional produce (fruit and vegetable) farmers  use chemical fertilizers and insecticide. organic growers instead choose manure and protect their crops by actually encouraging certain insects and birds who keep pests away to make a home within their crops.

And organic livestock farmers have a similar attitude and approach when it comes to raising cows and other animals.  These farmers do not use growth hormones and antibiotics on these animals and opt instead for organic feed and healthier preventive approaches to use in place of antibiotics.

When to Go Organic 

All of the effort that organic produce and livestock farmers expend to keep their products healthier ends up costing you. The consumer spend more money than traditional options.  Sometimes, depending on the food, organic items aren’t really much better for you than other. Therefore, spending the extra money (or going out of your way to simply find it) isn’t worth the effort.

As far as buying meat, going organic is a smart option.  You may find it more expensive and can be harder to find these items.  The benefit of going with more natural meat products is that you run less of a risk of eating a contaminated product.

Many athletes who were caught on doping scandals blamed contaminated meat!

If you can’t find organic cuts of your favorite meats, opt for leaner cuts with less fat, which is where most of the toxins are concentrated.  You can also grab a produce wash at the store while you’re picking up your food.

A simple rule to to follow when it comes to produce, is to always go organic with foods that have an edible skin.  But for something that you have to peel, like a banana for instance, going organic won’t make a difference.