As people try to make more conscious efforts to eat healthy, organic food is becoming more and more popular.
So what is organic food exactly? In laymen’s terms it refers to the way agricultural products (think fruits, vegetables and the like) are grown and how they are later processed. In the United States, organic produce is produce that’s been grown and processed without the use of GMOs and oil or sludge-based fertilizer. Organic meat works in the same fashion. It means livestock is raised for things like diary products and meat without growth hormones, animal by-products and antibiotics.
Whether you know it or not, how your food is grown, raised and processed can have a major impact on your health. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health and there are many benefits to eating things like organic meat and organic produce:
- Freshness: Since organic meat and organic produce is grown and processed without preservatives, the organic produce you get at a farmers market for example will likely be some of the freshest you’ve ever at. Chances are if you go to a farmers market to buy fruits and vegetables, you’re buying items that were likely grown not to far from the market.
- Eco-friendliness: Not only is organic food healthier, but it is eco-friendly too because it reduces pollution. Organic farming not only reduces pollution, but it uses less energy, conserves water and reduces soil erosion. As an added bonus, organic farming also helps the birds and critters around a particular area. Since organic food is grown without pesticides, animals won’t be harmed if they stop to munch on crops.
- No pesticides: Traditional farming methods often use herbicides, insecticides and other chemical agents to keep pests away and to maintain crops. Those chemicals can have an affect on your body and the way you might process certain foods. They have also been linked to certain types of cancer and can have detrimental effects on children and pregnant women. With organic produce and other organic food, there are no pesticides, so you can breathe easily knowing that you’re eating healthy food.
- No GMOs: Traditional crops are usually grown with Genetically Modified Organisms also known as GMOs. That means they’ve been altered to grow in such a way that isn’t natural. Organic food is grown without GMOs, so what you’re eating is grown and processed the way nature intended.
Whether you’re shopping at a local farmers market or hitting up your local supermarket, it’s important to know what you’re looking at when it comes to fruits, vegetables and the like. There are certain items you should avoid because they’re high in pesticides and certain items you don’t necessarily need to buy organic because they’re grown cleanly.
Some organic produce you SHOULD buy includes:
- Bell Peppers
Some fruits and vegetables you DON’T need to necessarily buy organic include:
- Sweet Corn
While it is true in some cases that buying organic means items are going to be more expensive, it can be worth the investment if you’re committed to eating healthier. If you’re shopping on a budget, consider shopping at farmers markets or join a food co-op. Both options will give you access to a variety of items, often at lower prices than what you’d find in your typical health food stores or natural food stores.
If you are buying organic, visit the places mentioned above, but also keep the following things in mind: buy in season (in-season produce is the cheapest), shop around to see if you can score some deals and pay attention to food labels. Seeing the word organic on food packaging doesn’t always equate to healthy. While fruits and vegetables are safe bets as health food, organic cookies and snacks might not be.
Reports have indicated that organic food sales in the U.S. amount to more than $45 billion in 2017. There are many benefits to buying organic produce, both for the environment and for your health. If you’re committed to buying organic, take time to do some research on organic products to ensure that you’re getting the healthiest food possible.