Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Exactly Does Organic Mean?

By: Kerry McKenzie

or•gan•ic
ôrˈɡanik/  adjective; of, relating to, or derived from living matter. Now days, “organic” has many meanings, and it’s confusing. There’s "organic" clothing, "organic" dish soap and "organic" milk, eggs and other foods. The price tag is usually higher for “organic” than for items that don’t use “organic” on labels in the supermarket or other stores.

When you see “organic” on the label, it offers confidence that the item has fewer chemicals than the non-organic options. In many cases, it can be shown that organic products are less-processed, contain less synthetic ingredients, and are produced in ways that are more gentle to our environment. In other cases, the organic label offers assurance that the products are made only from living materials, not from chemicals.

What makes a product organic and what allows a product to be legally marketed as “organic” can vary, product to product, because the government and industry have policies with criteria that are specific to say, eggs, or milk, or spinach. Each one of those products has its own criteria. So, it can be confusing.
The bottom line is that when you see “organic”, you can be sure it doesn't contain ingredients created from petroleum or other non-living sources.

If the price seems too high consider this - the list below has the highest pesticide load so buy them organic or grow them organically yourself:

Apples
Strawberries
Grapes
Celery
Peaches
Spinach
Sweet bell peppers
Nectarines (imported)
Cucumbers
Cherry tomatoes
Snap peas (imported)
Potatoes

And buy these conventionally grown products, if you have to, as these have the lowest in pesticide contamination:

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

Pesticides and other chemicals are unhealthy all of the time, but especially during vulnerable times such as fetal development and childhood. It's always best to buy organic whenever possible to promote the health of our families as well as the health of our planet. Not everyone can afford organic produce so Choosy reminds us that when shopping in the supermarket,

“Fresh is best,
Frozen is okay/fine,
Canned and boxed,
Are last in line!”

We are all busy, but no matter what, let’s make time to carefully select and wash the produce we purchase for our family. And let’s create early conversations with our children about healthy and not so healthy foods. Challenge them with sorting activities like this one from Choosy. And remember: Be Choosy…Choose Well!

What organically grown produce/products do you purchase?  

About the Author: Kerry McKenzie, B.A., M.S., has been working in education for more than 13 years. She is a Certified Health Coach, a 500 level (E-RYT500) yoga teacher and specializes in early childhood motor development. She has a passion for working with expecting moms, babies, toddlers and preschool age children and their caregivers at Greenville Health Systems pediatric clinic, child care centers and in the community. Click here to learn more about Kerry.

36 comments :

  1. This is such a great explanation of what organic truly means! I've learned a lot from this post. Thank you!

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    1. I am really glad it was informational for you!

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  2. I try to organic for the 'dirty dozen' another biggie for me is meats without any antibiotics... esp for my kids.

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    1. Meat without antibiotics is now a big deal. Do you think it will still be a big deal in 6-12 months?

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  3. The term does get very confusing. Very helpful advice! Thanks for providing the lists!

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    1. I find the list to be super helpful when I am shopping. Glad you liked it too!

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  4. I always wondered about the true meaning of 'organic' - thanks so much for shedding some light on this for me. As I understand it, when looking for organic foods, it's more expensive at least from what I've seen. Is that right?

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    1. I think it all depends on where you make your purchases from. If you buy straight from the farmer then you'll get a better deal but the further down the purchase line you go, then things could get expensive. For example, I've noticed recently that organic bananas are $0.10 more than regular bananas at my local grocer. However, I am not going to be able to get bananas from the farmer here so that is worth it!

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  5. This is great information. I rarely buy organic because it costs double than regular food - which is a shame.

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    1. It is a shame but you can always give your green thumb a try and grow your own!

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  6. I love how you categorized fresh, frozen and canned. This is such a great and helpful information.

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  7. I get extremely confused some times with things marked natural and organic. Thanks for breaking it all down into logical and easy to understand info.

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    1. I agree that it is quite confusing. Hopefully you can remember the definitions when you are grocery shopping next time!

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  8. Great explanation! I know it can be really confusing to figure out what organic really means, this helps!

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    1. It is funny because a lot of people seem to have a different thought about what organic means.

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  9. Hmm, I thought if it said it organic it meant it was organic. Very interesting! Thanks for the advice!

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    1. Sad isn't it that you have to read in between the lines to know what is true?

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  10. I'm going to have to section out the things I definitely need to buy organic. This was a really helpful post.

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    1. I love that list too. Maybe I'll create a printable for you so that you can just slip it in your wallet and reference it at the store!

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  11. I always understood organic ingredients as something that's wholesome. Grown without anything other than the natural resources like water and good soil and that's it. I would actually love to use organic ingredients in my cooking if they were not so expensive!

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    1. Straight from the Earth! I know some items can be quite pricey but there are ways to budget for an organic diet.

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  12. Thank you for this post. We do have to choose our food carefully. The list you provided is very helpful. I wish I had a huge backyard so I can grow my own veggies.

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    1. I wish you had a big backyard too! Gardening is so enjoyable!

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  13. When I see organic products, I understand that they're grown naturally, no chemicals used. Anyway, this is very informative and a very helpful post. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. The no chemicals being used part is really important when it comes to organic produce.

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  14. Oh my goodness. Your list scares me. Yup, organic foods are expensive, but they are so worth it.

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    1. It is pretty scary when you start to research more about organic vs non-organic.

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  15. Always great to know what you should be buying organic. I kept a list of the notorious "dirty dozen" until I had them memorized.

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    1. Great job! That is a very famous list!

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  16. This is interesting to know. I just listened to an agronomist on NPR who said he didn't think organic only food could sustain large populations.

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  17. great information! gotta love and support organic products!

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  18. What a great list to have of foods high in pesticides - certainly makes you think!
    I like buying directly from farmers that I personally know, because many can't afford the fees "organic" farmers must pay for certification, yet they use organic methods.

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    1. That is a great point! Just being able to say your product is organic can raise the price but when you know that your local farmers grow organically then that is the way to go!

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