Organic Foods Explained

It seems that every few days there’s an organic

or all-natural product that’s new to hit the market. Whether veggies, fruits, herbs, meat, or some other concoction, virtually every type of meal can now be made organically. More and more farmers are adhering to these strict codes to produce healthier foods, and consumers are steadily seeing the results in the form of their grocer’s shelves. But what does organic actually mean? What is it that sets these foods apart from others? Despite the somewhat bad rap the foods have gotten from food manufacturing companies, eating organic can provide for a wealth of health benefits.

First of all, what does the word organic mean? When we see foods labeled with this term, what actually sets it apart? In order for a food to host the coveted label, it must adhere to certain guidelines by the FDA. Most recognizably, organic foods cannot be grown or mixed with artificial ingredients, preservatives, or unnatural flavorings. Farmers are even limited to what types of fertilizers and/or pesticides they can use when growing the foods. These rules ensure that consumers are getting healthy, all-natural options when buying groceries. To sum up, organic foods cannot come in contact with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically-modified organisms, or any type of ionizing radiation. Further, animals that provide food – whether through meat or eggs – are restricted from the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.

How it Helps

Because these foods lack many ingredients that traditional foods hold, it can prevent many side effects from the source. Consumers can avoid packing on extra calories that come from preservatives, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and more, just by choosing organic. Further, these unnatural additives have been shown to hold dangerous and even deadly consequences. (Check out our blog posts to learn more.)

Another perk to eating organic is the amount of nutrients that can be gained. The fresher fruits and veggies are when eaten, the more vitamins and minerals that can be absorbed by the body. Because organic foods lack preservatives, they are required to be fresh when picked and prepared, therefore allowing a healthier option just through principle. Oftentimes consumers claim organic versions taste much better as well!

Deciphering Labels

When at the store, it’s important to know what each category means, as there can be discrepancies as to how companies title their items. First off, the FDA has no definition for the term natural, so unless you see all-natural, or the term with further stats or descriptions, be sure to steer clear of them altogether (when working toward an all organic diet).

As for organic, there are three different labels that can be used with FDA approval.

-100% Organic: This label is only used for those items that were made with 100% organic ingredients; this label means just what it says.

-Organic: Used when a minimum of 95% organic ingredients were grown and compiled for the listed item’s use.

-Made with Organic Ingredients: This label means that at least 70% of your ingredients are pure organic ones. The remaining 30% has fewer restrictions, but is made with no GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

Food items that don’t match any of these criteria are on their own and are forbidden from claiming any ties to organic ingredients on a package’s front, but may list them in ingredients if preferred.

With the wave of organics constantly on the rise, it’s important to know what labels mean when shopping or picking up new ingredients. Keep these simple facts in mind the next time you head to the store to make sure you are getting the most out of your organic eating experiences.

To find out more about nutrition or to organically flavor your own beverages, head to

Photo courtesy of KYZ.