The Importance of Organic Eating (And What Those Labels Mean)
Organic is a word that seems to cause a debate. You will hear that eating organic does not necessarily mean getting more vitamins and nutrients. And this is technically true. However, you are going to want more information. This is not the sole mission of organic labels or the organic eating "trend" (we don't like calling it that. The most natural and scientific function of a human being has no business being called a trend).
The true definition of "organic" simply means natural matter with a carbon base. When it's in reference to food it's means that the produce or meat you eat has been grown without chemicals or pesticides. It's natural eating. But the "all-natural" label on your food doesn't mean 100% organic. Confusing, isn't it? Don't worry. We'll explain.
Organic eating means being part of the cycle of life. And participating in the way nature intended. The USDA states that the goal of eating organic is to "integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity". It has never been about getting the most vitamins from your food. It's about protecting our resources, the balance of our planet and our future sustainability.
And although the organic label does not mean more nutrients, every consumer should know that the way in which your food was grown, raised and harvested has a huge affect on the amount of nutrition (see our post Soil vs. Hydroponic Growing). Soil grown food had a higher vitamin percentage and less water than hydroponic grown food. However they can both be considered organic. The labels make this all very hard to comprehend. So we're going to simplify the need-to-know information for our Grow.Bar users and community.
Let's start with the USDA labels. "Certified Organic" means that the contents of what you are purchasing are 95% or more organic. They are free of synthetic additives (pesticides, chemical fertilizers and dyes). The "100% Organic" label means that the contents are definitely 100% organic. And the "Made With Organic" label means that at least 70% of the contents must be free of synthetic additives.
So if the reason to eat organic is not simply better vitamin intake, and more about sustainability, why should you invest in organic produce? For some, this won't be easy. Organic produce and meat is not the cheapest on the market. But the good news is that organic food sales have kept growing, despite the economy. The prices are getting more reasonable than they were 10 years ago, but it's not nearly enough for everyone.
"The US market is by far the single biggest organic dairy market and grew 4% during 2012-13. In the US, organic dairy has a 5.9% share of total dairy with limited supply now the key factor hindering further growth." (Organic Milk Product Report 2015). This means that limited supply is the problem. And limited supply means there aren't enough farms and farmers creating the truly organic produce our bodies need.
This is where sustainability comes in to play. If the USDA's mission is to protect our resources and promote ecological balance, then maybe it's time we all started actually paying closer attention. When you choose organic foods over genetically modified foods and foods grown with harmful pesticides you are not only keeping you and your loved ones as healthy as possible, you are also contributing to finding a balance our earth and economies so desperately need.
Animals need organic foods. Our plants grow from an organic process. We as humans are organic material. It's one big cycle and one big earth. However people have been diminishing our resources. And choosing organic is one of the biggest and most important ways we can help our farmers and our overall environment take a turn for the better. Maybe you can't afford to buy all organic at the grocery store this week. But I bet you could sacrifice that expensive bottle of wine. Buy a less expensive one and spend the extra funds on the 100% organic apples. Every little bit counts.
Farmer's markets throughout the U.S. are a wonderful and growing business. And their mission is clear. There are definitely more accessible organic options than ever before. The Grow.Bar, for example, is another business on a mission to help everyone choose organic and to contribute to our sustainability. No matter the size of your home, family or wallet, the Grow.Bar can provide year round, 100% organic veggies for you and the people you love.
It's about time we all start looking for the labels, understanding them and doing what we can to better ourselves, and in turn better our world. If you are what you eat, then it just makes sense. We are organic. We need organic food. We encourage everyone to educate themselves and to take the steps necessary to better the economical, ecological and environmental balance. We are all in this together and we are all responsible.