Natural or Organic? That is the question!

I recently had a conversation with a friend over the topic of Organic products and produce. She felt that it was just a ploy for people to spend more money on products that are the same as “natural” or non-organic.  So I did a little research and I hope this helps to answer some questions you may have.  Please know that this information is what I found during my research, not just of my opinion.

In order for a product to be considered organic, it must meet the requirements set forth by the USDA.  Once it has met the requirements it will carry the Organic Seal. As found on the USDA website, here is their definition of Organic Agriculture.

What is Organic Agriculture?

Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.

Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce organic food and fiber. Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.

Organic farms and processors:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

If you are a “googler” as I am, you have probably trolled many a website to seek information on what foods are best to buy organic.  Which have high levels of pesticides and which don’t?  Well I have compiled a list of what I have found in my trolling and I think this will help for those of us who have a tight budget when it comes to buying produce.

These you will WANT to purchase as organic, or grow your own organically:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap Peas (Imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Kale
  • Collard Greens

These have the lowest pesticide loads and are safer to purchase NON Organic

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potatoes

Many products will use the term “natural” on their labels.  This does not mean that they will meet your expectations about how they have been produced or what they may contain.  The only guarantee is to seek out the USDA labeled Organic products to help keep from adding unwanted chemicals into your body.

Here are some things to do before buying a product.

  1. Read the Label- If you want organic, look for the USDA Organic SealUSDAlogo
  2. What is listed in the ingredients?  Look for products that are minimally processed, have few ingredients and contain no artificial preservatives or flavors.
  3. Do your own research- visit the USDA website, produce manufacturers. Ask questions. You have the right to know what is being put into your body.
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