If someone asked you what organic means, what would you say? When looking at an organic apple sitting next to a conventionally grown apple, do you know what the differences are between them? Do you know why it’s worth paying more for the organic apple than the conventional one?
It should be a cut and dry answer. Unfortunately, defining organic when it comes to our food supply is not as simple as looking up a definition in the dictionary. It’s a complex subject with a multi-faceted answer.
The simple answer is that organic farming uses practices that are much different from conventional farming. Unlike conventional farmers, organic farmers cannot use synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers; sewage sludge; genetic engineering or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. These are all good things for our health.
In addition, there is an ecologic dimension to organic farming that isn’t often spelled out. Organic farming can also be defined as a system that maintains and enhances soil fertility, prevents soil erosion, promotes and enhances biological diversity and minimizes risk to human and animal health and natural resources.
While terms like “natural” have no legal definition when it comes to food, the word “organic” does, thanks to the National Organic Standards Board of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Organic farmers have to jump through legal hoops and pay fees to certify that they are following these standards and guidelines. In fact, all farms and handling operations that sell organic agricultural products worth more than $5,000 per year must be certified by a state or private agency that’s accredited by the USDA.
So, next time you’re shopping for your family’s food, look for the certified organic seal. It’s the best assurance you have that your fruits, veggies, meat, dairy and other foods haven’t been sprayed with toxic synthetic chemicals, that no genetically engineered ingredients were used and that the farmer is working to minimize the impact on the environment.
Why do you choose organic?
About the Author:
Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering and founder of Green Moms Media, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former marketing manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family’s life. She enjoys sharing those discoveries with anyone who’s willing to listen. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.