What is Organic? Why is it Good for You?

Organic ClementinesFoods that are raised or grown organically must follow certain guidelines. They are raised in an environmentally-friendly way, without pesticides or radiation, and restricted amounts of hormones and antibiotics. This is a good thing for our health and the well-being of our children and their children. But why is organic more expensive? Sadly, many farming practices use unhealthy techniques to produce food cheaply and quickly. Going back to the “good old days” of farming can cost and can also mean the food is slightly more expensive.

Is it worth it? Well, organic food that is certified by the USDA avoids practices like genetic engineering, pesticides, radiation, and using sewage sludge for fertilizer, along with other potentially hazardous fertilizer from non-organic sources. In the cast of meat, producers are required to give livestock agricultural feed that is 100 percent organic. Organically raised animals may not be given hormones to promote growth, or antibiotics for any reason. Animals who are sick and are treated with medication outside of the guidelines cannot be sold as organic.

So what does that mean for our bodies? First, it means we are consuming less hormones, antibiotics and pesticides – certainly a better thing all around for our bodies. Why is this important? Long-term exposure to low levels of antibiotics in meat or milk can allow bacteria to become resistant to those exact antibiotics. While normally not a problem, it becomes a serious issue when you become ill from an infection – you must find a different antibiotic that still works.

Organic SealSo what about “free-range,” “hormone free” or “natural” that are used as labels on many foods? Free range is a method of farming where the animals are can roam freely instead of being contained or in a cage. Hormone free foods might mean that hormones were not used in production but this doesn’t cover other contaminants like pesticides. And natural? I don’t know where they came up with that one – but it really doesn’t have any legal government restrictions behind it, so anyone could use it for whatever products they want to market as healthy. The only way to be sure you’re getting organic is to look for the label created by the USDA.

What about local farming? Local produce is great for several reasons. While not all of it is organic, local farmers grow things in season. That means we’re getting the tastiest produce that nature has to offer because veggies and fruits are raised within their growing season. Also, produce tastes great since it doesn’t have far to travel and can ripen on the vine. Where can you buy local produce? Check out the farmer’s market, there are plenty to choose from. Some grocery stores even stock local produce in their grocery aisles – check for signs.

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