With all the health problems going on in the world, it makes sense that more and more people are trying to take control of their health and wellbeing in seemingly small but meaningful ways. One impactful way you can make changes in your diet is to switch to organic options when available.
The popularity of organic foods is on the rise, and with all the health benefits they can provide (as well as the positive environmental impact that organic farming can have on the planet), it’s no wonder that health-conscious individuals are buying organic.
The Many Health Benefits of Eating Organic Foods
- Consuming fresher foods due to the lack of preservatives.
- Getting an increase of needed nutrients such as antioxidants, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Getting an increase in other essential micronutrients, since many important vitamins and minerals are found in levels up to 3 times higher than those found in non-organic options due to soil quality, environmental stressors, and other factors.
- Lack of pesticides, chemicals, and preservatives that can trigger allergic responses.
- Lack of controversial GMOs.
- Lack of antibiotics, toxic heavy metals, and growth hormones that can cause adverse reactions.
For many people, what’s NOT included in your food can be just as important as what IS included, and organic options are guaranteed to be free from many problematic chemicals and other undesirable ingredients.
Which Foods Should Be Organic?
When you’re getting started in the world of organic foods, it can be helpful to keep in mind the foods that have been found to have the highest amounts of pesticide residue. The Environmental Working Group’s 2020 “Dirty Dozen” includes:
- Hot Peppers
These 13 foods are the perfect place to start if you’re trying to make some healthy changes in your diet and dabble in switching to organic options.
Another common food that can raise concerns is sugar (and other added sweeteners). Most non-organic sugar options contain many of the undesirable chemicals and retain pesticide residues that you’re trying to avoid, so switching to organic options, like monk fruit sweetener, can be a healthier and safer choice.
Organic Farming and the Environment
In addition to the health benefits associated with eating organic foods, people who are passionate about sustainability and the environment often choose to buy organic. Organic farming practices aim to reduce pollution, provide a healthy environment for livestock, improve soil and water quality, promote sustainable resource cycles, and reduce or eliminate the use of harmful materials.
What Does It Mean to Be Organic Certified?
In order to ensure that the foods you purchase are held to certain standards (and contain what they say they do), organizations can apply to be organic certified. If the certification is granted, then you know the food that is produced there meets the highest of standards.
For a product that you purchase to be organic certified, factors such as animal raising, pest control, weed control, soil quality, input materials, and more are taken into account. These standards keep synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, sewage sludge, ionizing radiation, and other undesirable materials from being used on the food you consume.
What to Look for on Food Labels
If you’ve ever attempted to navigate a food label, you know that things are not nearly as straightforward as you’d think. Fortunately, the USDA has laid out clear and enforceable standards for certain terms that can help clear things up a little.
- If a product is labeled or represented as “organic,” it must have at least 95% certified organic content. These products may use the USDA organic seal.
- If a product is labeled or represented as “made with” organic materials, it must have at least 70% certified organic content.
- Products that don’t fall into either of the above categories may identify specific ingredients as organic on their included ingredients list.
One Step at a Time
Taking a holistic approach to well-being is a multifaceted journey with numerous benefits, and choosing organic options when available can help you reap many of those benefits. If your goals and aspirations include eating healthier, saving the planet, or taking a more active role in your health, choosing more organic options is an excellent step in the right direction.