I came across this article on the Reader's Digest website that taught me many surprising things about organic vs. conventionally grown food. Here are some of my key takeaways:
1. What is organic food anyway? The article states that "organic foods undergo intense USDA regulations: No synthetic fertilizers, synthetic growth and breeding hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs; any pesticides used must be natural. It takes three years, and thousands of dollars in fees, for farms to go organic. Once certified, farmers get regular inspections, keep detailed logs and must stay prepared for surprise visits to test their soil and water."
2. Parent Companies. Most of the quaint, "family-owned sounding" brands you see at the store are actually owned by big corporations. Bear Naked, Kashi and Morningstar Farms are owned by Kellogg. Naked Juice is owned by Pepsi.
Check out some of these other eye opening parent companies:
3. "Organic could still come from China." If you're like me and want to know exactly where your food is coming from, it's a better bet to shop farmer's markets and local growers. You'll also be helping the environment and keeping your dollars in the community.
4. Organic meat and poultry doesn't mean it comes from animals roaming freely on open pastures. This article explains that "the USDA requires that, organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals … given no antibiotics or growth hormones. But this could just mean the animals ate organic corn instead of conventional corn." Also, free-range could mean a chicken was allowed to spend just a few minutes of the day outside of its coop. But the article explains buying organic still reduces "your exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria."
5. Be wary of any seafood called organic. "When it comes to fish and ocean life, there are no federal regulations that makes something “sustainable” or “organic.” So if you see seafood marked as such, be wary."
6. This one was an eye-opener for me - "You can’t rinse off pesticides from conventional produce." Yikes!! Pesticides can penetrate the flesh of some produce and can't be removed.
7. Here's another shocking statistic according to the Reader's Digest article: "Only .6% of American crops are organic and without genetic modification (GMO's)."
8. Watch for labels that say "Organic" vs. "100% Organic". If the label just says "Organic", only 95% of the ingredients need to be organically grown by USDA standards. Sneaky!
9. Many food labels will use the term "All Natural" to imply the same idea as organic without having to undergo rigorous USDA regulations.