9 Facts – and 1 Great Tip - About Organic Food

The one thing that most people agree on is organic food is more expensive than conventionally-produced food — sometimes significantly so. But is buying organic worth it?

When making your decision, keep these facts in mind:9 Facts - and One Great Tip - About Organic Food - In Content

  1. Organic food differs in the way it is grown, handled, and processed. The word “organic” has specific criteria and legal meaning.
  2. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.
  3. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that were given no antibiotics or growth hormones.
  4. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a government-approved certifier inspects to make sure the farmer is following the rules necessary to meet United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standards.
  5. There are three levels of organic certification:
    • “100 percent organic.” USDA seal can be used.
    • “Organic.” USDA seal can be used.
    • “Made with organic ingredients.” At least 70 percent of ingredients are certified organic. The USDA organic seal cannot be used.
  6. Labels such as “natural,” “free-range,” and “hormone-free” shouldn’t be confused with organic. Only food labeled "organic" has been certified as meeting USDA organic standards.
  7. The USDA makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally-produced food.
  8. Many say organic food is heathier, but researchers at Stanford University, as reported by Harvard Health, evaluated nearly 250 studies and discovered very little difference in nutritional content, aside from slightly higher phosphorous levels in many organic foods and a higher omega-3 fatty acid content in organic milk and chicken.
  9. New international research (British Journal of Nutrition, February 2016) including 196 studies on milk and 67 on meat, discovered that organic products provide higher levels of beneficial fatty acids, certain essential minerals and antioxidants.

While deciding about whether to “go organic,” when selecting produce, it’s smart to follow the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” practice of the EWG (Environmental Working Group), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

The USDA makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally-produced food.

You don’t need to worry as much about produce when the peeling isn’t eaten, such as avocadoes, pineapples, corn, onions, kiwi and others in the Clean Fifteen. EWG’s Dirty Dozen — such as strawberries, peaches, apples, bell peppers and tomatoes — often have pesticides, so buying organic makes sense with those items.

Small Steps: Change your future with fiber.
Fruits and vegetables are important at any age, and especially as we enter our 40s. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals – and fiber, which can protect against heart disease and some cancers.