Organic labels are everywhere these days — found on everything from carrots to clothing to household cleaning products. As a result, most shoppers face a dilemma when they go to the grocery store: to buy or not to buy organic. Here, we look at what this trend-turned-lifestyle really means and which products you really should buy organic.
What does organic mean exactly? Organic agricultural practices are focused on avoiding the use of traditional pesticides and additives, while simultaneously promoting environmental preservation through methods like water conservation. When it comes to the production of meat, organic refers to a focus on the animal’s welfare, as well as the lack of added growth hormones and antibiotics. To be labeled and sold USDA organic, foods sold in the United States must match the regulatory body’s certifications.
Why do people buy organic? Many people buy organic to further limit their exposure to pesticides, additives and preservative, according to the Mayo Clinic. Traditional commercial farming methods call for spraying synthetic pesticides on crops while they grow. These pesticides leave residue on the skins of produce — hence why it’s so important to wash an apple before eating it. Because organic growers don’t use pesticides, the risk of consuming this residue is greatly diminished. People may also buy organic because they feel it’s the right thing to do for both society and the environment.
Buying organic is more expensive, right? In a word, yes. Buying organic produce, meat or other foods costs more than buying the traditional versions of these products (Whole Foods didn’t get the nickname “Whole Check” for nothing). And while we love helping the environment, sometimes we just can’t pony up all that extra cash to buy 100 percent organic at the grocery store. Check out our list of dos and don’ts when it comes to buying organic:
- Fruits with edible skins: In the heat of summertime, there’s nothing we love more than biting into a ripe peach or nectarine, or savoring a plate of cool strawberries. Ditto for crisp apples during fall. Whether we’re eating them straight or cooking with these fruits, buy organic to lessen the chance of pesky pesticides lurking in the skins.
- Meat: Like many consumers, we prefer buying organic chicken and beef, according to Rodale News. These animals have been raised more humanely than with traditional methods, and lack the growth hormones and other additives found in many meats.
>> Read more: Simple, Healthy Organic Swaps for the Modern Family
- Produce with inedible peels: If you’re using produce that has an inedible peel, skin or shell, you really don’t need to buy organic, says Real Simple. This goes for everything from bananas to avocados to pineapples to onions.
- Seafood: Don’t be fooled if you see an organic label on a piece of fish — the USDA doesn’t even have requirements in place for seafood yet. For now we’ll keep buying the regular stuff.
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