Being on the road to a healthier you, while going green and becoming more environmentally conscious is easier than you think. Organic goods have that double advantage! Although a bit heavier on the wallet, this option pays off in the long run if you’re well informed. Automatic membership in the eco-friendly club is guaranteed by not supporting the use of harsh chemicals on our soil, water resources, and farm animals. In turn, the output results in better and fresher produce, which you can consume knowing it came from unpolluted sources, and reap the beneficial effects on your health and well-being.
Organic products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the requirements of keeping animals “uncontaminated” by hormones, antibiotics, and bad feed. The crops are pesticide-free. The reason why farmers resort to these “conventional” methods in the first place is mass production. It is believed that a larger percent of the population can be fed with all the extra additives. This issue is debatable and even if proven true, at what cost? Pesticides, bioengineering, and synthetic ingredients are not allowed on organic grounds. Compost and manure are usually utilized instead. There are labeling requirements and on-site farm inspections to ensure the validity of organic claims. It has also been suggested to exclude the use of nanotechnology (meddling in the actual atoms and molecules of a product) in organic foods. Some tips to follow when in search of these products are:
1. Reading the labels and becoming familiar with all types of ingredients. Of course nothing is 100%. In order to pass the necessary requirements the product must contain 95% organic ingredients. You need to search for a USDA 100% label to ensure a fully organic product. Look for signs like “no added hormones”, “no antibiotics” and “free of pesticides”. Moreover, examining the packaging in which the food is being sold for any marker of recycling is a telltale sign that the supplying company adheres to organic standards. Any indication that the product is “mass-produced” is a red flag.
2. Organic foods are sold at almost all major markets and health food stores but your best bet is purchasing directly from a farm which adheres to the above standards and asking questions if uncertain. Check for the closest one in your area. This technique is also a big money saver.
3. Living in the age of the internet has a great many advantages, one of which is shopping without ever having to leave the house. Purchase organic foods from online markets, a large variety of which are available to you, the conscientious consumer.
4. “Natural” food does not by any means imply that the food is organic. In fact, it can mean that all the harmful toxins are simply not listed on the label. Your food might not contain preservatives or additives, but you’re still getting a healthy dose of MSG, synthetics, pesticides, etc.
Last but not least, you can take matters into your own hands to ensure that the products you’re consuming are non-toxic, and grow your own food! All you need is a little, space, patience, and solar energy, the most organic element of all.
** By Diana Kaganovsky**