What does the word “Organic” mean to you?

Picture the food you buy: does it have the USDA symbol slapped on the side of it? Organic Food is simply food that has been certified as being Organic by USDA standards. Organic food that has been certified will have the USDA Organic seal, or symbol, placed on the side of it. USDA’s National Organic Program logo Image/label from USDA.gov

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A quick breakdown of “Organic”

If something is marked with the USDA Organic symbol, then it has been identified as falling under the three following categories; 100% Organic, Organic, or Made With Organic Ingredients. So this can get tricky! 100% Organic – Meaning made with 100% Organic Ingredients. Organic – Meaning made with at least 95% organic ingredients Made With Organic Ingredients – made with no less than 70% Organic ingredients (with strict restrictions on remaining 30% of ingredients being Non-GMOs). Products with less than 70% organic ingredients can list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the packaging.

What if it says “Organic” but doesn’t have the USDA Organic Seal?

If you buy food that claims to be “Organic” but it does not have the USDA Organic seal on it, chances are the people selling it are not really organic certified, or they are exempt (meaning, they sell less than $500 dollars of product under their name annually). If you buy from local farmers, try to trust their word on whether or not they practice organic farming. Buy where you trust!! Try to stay local and support your community! The USDA Organic seal lets consumers know about the quality and integrity of a product. The USDA Organic seal can only be placed on a product once a company has proven the product to be Organic per USDA Standards; this requires records retention, inspections, and random checks from the USDA to make sure the company is in compliance with USDA Standards.

Why does Organic cost so much, anyway?

The easiest answer to this question is that it doesn’t! … not always, at least. Organic foods sometimes cost more, yes, but some organic foods do not; coffee, bread, cereal, and sometimes even hamburger will sometimes cost the same as their conventional counterparts. As Organic foods grows in demand the price will inevitably drop down. My personal grocery bill has increased, but I have found ways to shop frugally to counter the extra costs.

Easy ways to save:

  • Buy fresh and buy less, but more often. Don’t cook? Hop into the joys of culinary adventures! You can do it!
  • Cook and eat fresh, raw, and organic. It fills you up and keeps you going longer than any other method!
  • Plan ahead! If you buy ingredients for what you plan to make that night and the next, you won’t end up breaking the bank as much as you might think. Going major shopping for fresh items leads to wasted produced going bad in the fridge. Instead buy less more often; you may not save as much on time, but you will on money. Plus, think of the health benefits of making food a bigger part of your life!
  • Look for specials! Find specials on organic meats and freeze them when you get home. Same with berries; go ahead and grab the sales and then go home and flash freeze them! Frozen berries are great for pies, smoothies, and breakfast toppings! Why would there be additional costs?
  • Organic farmers don’t get the same federal subsidies that conventional farmers get.
  • Organic farming is also more labor intensive; organic farmers cannot rely on pesticides and GMOs that prevent insects and pests, or even drought… that means a lot more work trying to deal with problems on the front.
  • Organic farmer’s are generally a lot smaller operations than more conventional farmers. These are all reasons why organic food reflects the cost of organic farmer’s additional growing expenses.

Is Organic Food better or more nutritious for you?

In short – that question hasn’t been answered yet; not according to the scientific community, that is. Think about the many variables that would need to be incorporated into studies to support a claim that organic food would be more nutritious: soil type, climate, seeds, crop variety, handling, yields, etc. Studies are being done, though! Some studies do suggest that there are higher and lower nutritional values in some organic foods, such as a study conducted by the University of California, Davis. University of California, Davis’s 2007 Study A team of UC Davis researchers studied the differences between organic and conventionally grown tomatoes and found that organically grown tomatoes “were higher in sugars and other soluble solids, consistency and acidity, all of which are desirable attributes in processing tomatoes. The organically grown tomatoes were lower, however, in red color, vitamin C and certain healthful compounds known as phenolics.” (Tomato Study Points to Organic Pros and Cons of Four Farms ).

Check out the study for yourself!! Tomato on a vine A breakdown of the study: This study shows that there really are pros AND cons to eating organic. Consider this: Some GMOs have been intentionally modified to give higher yields, higher nutritional value, and resistances to the environment and/or pests. Conventional foods are going to show as being somewhat higher in nutritional values if they are modified to do so! Organic foods show as higher nutritional and health value in certain aspects as well, including a decreased chance of exposure to harmful pesticides.

So what does that really mean for you, the consumer?

It all depends on your own personal preference! Let yourself be the judge of what you eat! I personally choose to eat more organic foods so I can prevent toxins and chemicals in my life, such as pesticides that conventional fruits and veggies are normally sprayed sprayed with during their growth span. I also believe in the fertile growing methods of organic farmers! Many people say that organic tastes better; that’s also just personal preference, but I tend to agree! I, personally, try to only let organic foods and products into my body. Some people go for conventional produce and products because they’re cheaper or they can’t afford the alternative organic products. Many people simply see nothing wrong with GMOs and pesticides and conventional farming methods… that’s fine too. It’s up to you! No judgements here!

I try to stay organic when in comes to the beauty products made at Handcraft Essentials!

Being USDA Organic approved is tough work, but I’m working on it! I don’t have any claims on my products being Organic, but most of them are made with only organic certified ingredients, so I’m at least one step ahead of the game! I know what my customers like because I listen to them; organic is preferred because no one wants more chemicals on their skin and in their bodies! I currently list ingredients on the side of products to indicate which are organic for my customers, per USDA Standards.

Want more information?

Definitions according to USDA: Organic – “A labeling term that refers to an agricultural product produced in accordance with the Act and the regulations in this part”.

National List – “A list of allowed and prohibited substances as provided for in the Act”.

National Organic Program (NOP) – “The program authorized by the Act for the purpose of implementing its provisions”.

 

References / Further Reading:

http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=8450

https://www.usda.gov/topics/organic

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/labeling

https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-departmental-guidance-organic-agriculture.pdf

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Calcium%20Carbonate%20NOSB%20Rec.pdf

https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2-NOP-National-List-of-Allowed-and-Prohibited-Substances.pdf

https://books.google.com/books?id=ZREVIPXAWyMC&pg=PA392&lpg=PA392&dq=he+program+authorized+by+the+Act+for+the+purpose+of+implementing+its+provisions&source=bl&ots=r7Lh9TTyCD&sig=7HLzKkPJZqJZkdZhNER3p78gZgE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiYh7np8tfXAhXm54MKHXTjB3sQ6AEILDAB

 

 

 

 

 

 

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