reading food labels on organic food

Organic Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Organic has become the standard for healthy food that everyone seems to judge everything else against. However, organic is just a government labeling system. There are standards set by the government that farmers have to comply with. But these standards can change any time the government likes.That’s strike number one. But strike number two comes from people’s general assumption that because something is organic, it’s healthy. Sometimes an organic product is better than it’s conventional counterpart, but many times it’s no better or even worse.

The more ingredients that are on the label, the more likely the product has crap in it you don’t want to eat. There shouldn’t really be anything you can’t pronounce. And you want to look out for ambiguous terms like spices or natural flavors. These are catch ingredients that include all kinds of ingredients manufacturers don’t want on the label.

Some ingredients, like MSG (monosodium glutemate), can be listed under more names than just MSG. Another reason you should be wary of ingredients you don’t recognize.

In reality, most organic products aren’t produced that much differently than conventional crops. The major difference is that there is much fewer pesticides and herbicides in organic foods. In some foods, that makes a big difference and in other foods it doesn’t make as big a difference. In the case of produce, some varieties contain little of these chemicals even when produced conventionally.

The best food is the food you grow yourself on your property. This isn’t always practical though. Next best would be from a local farmer who produces food in a way that you agree with. I buy a lot of food from local farmers that aren’t labeled organic because it costs a ton of money to get certified, which drives the cost up for me too. These farmers all produce their food at a much higher standard than organic requires but I save on price because they forgo the label.

I get great quality food, help support a local business, and develop a relationship within my community. There’s almost certainly a local farmer’s market nearby or CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture, are also great options.

Obviously the world isn’t perfect, but always read food labels when buying food. You should at least know what you’re eating! If the convention product has a better ingredient list, it just may be the better option. For current organic standards check out this link.

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