It has become very apparent that many people thinking about making the transition to organic products have stopped themselves due a lack of convenience, an overpricing of products, and a confusion as to what is really organic. Which leads me to this weeks question: How much do you value your health?
Yes, organic foods have become very popular over the last few years, but the navigation of various food labels, benefits and claims from different companies can be mind-boggling. It is important to be in the know and be able to determine what really is organic, from what a company is “claiming” to be organic.
“100% Organic” – Can only contain organically produced ingredients, and will contain either the USDA Organic Seal or the Canadian Organic Seal.
“Organic” – Must contain a minimum of 95% organically produced ingredients. They are also permitted to display the organic seals, and must list the non-organic products on the backing of the packages.
“Made with Organic XXXX” – Must contain a minimum of 70% organically produced ingredients. They are NOT permitted to display the organic seals.
Any products containing less than 70% organically produced ingredients cannot display the organic seals and may NOT use the term “organic” on the front label.
The Benefits of Organic Food:
Those of you with severe allergies: don’t you want to experience your allergies lessening? Studies have shown that people with allergies to foods, chemicals or preservatives find their symptoms lessen or completely disappear when eating only organic foods. Organic foods have more beneficial nutrients than their conventionally-grown competitors. How our food products are grown has a major impact on our physical, mental, and emotional health.
As I discussed in my previous blog post, organic food production contains fewer pesticides, and is better for our environment, water quality, soil health, and air. In addition to this, organically raised animals are NOT given any antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed any byproducts. According to the National Institute of Medicine, 80% of all antibiotics sold in Canada and the US are used in livestock feed. The use of antibiotics in animal feed has lead to humans being antibiotic-resistant, causing a decrease in recovery from certain human diseases and illnesses. But it doesn’t stop there. The use of antibiotics and growth hormones has shown to lead to:
- early puberty development in young girls
- increased risk of breast cancer
- increased risk of prostate cancer
Experts at Cornell University suggest increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, as they contain many important antioxidants. They also suggest limiting your meat intake and switching to lean meat, as these cuts will contain lower percentages of byproducts and hormones (if you are not going to switch to organic). If you are going to transition to organic meat products, limiting the amount of meat you eat will help save money.
Now, not all conventionally-grown food products are dangerous. There are some non-organic products that are relatively safe. “The Environmental Working Group”, a non-profit organization that I have found extremely useful, updates their list on a regular basis after analyzing government pesticide testing. They list the most important products to buy organic, along with the products that are safe to be purchased non-organic.
Find these lists here: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm
Here are a few tips to keep the cost of buying organic products low:
- Shop at a Farmer’s market
- Join a co-op (low priced organic foods are offered to members, who pay an annual fee)
- Buy in seasons (fruits & veggies are cheapest when they are in season)
- Lower your meat intake (organic or not, meat does not need to be consumed on a daily basis)
- Shop around!!!! Take a look at the same products at a few different places before making your purchases.
Farmer’s Markets Ontario provide information about all of the farmer’s markets throughout Ontario, including their locations. (http://www.farmersmarketsontario.com/)
With my busy schedule, food has become such an important staple in my life. With the proper nutrition and nutrient based products, I can be fueled and feeling full of energy throughout my long days. The products I consume are not an area of my life that I am willing to cheap out on. If you value your health, begin your transition!