Organic, local and convention will be the words you see posted everywhere in a Whole Foods, Target, Walmart and of course your local farmer’s market. I love farmer’s markets! They are a great place to get new recipes and gather fresh flowers in case you have summer guests. Even though these are pretty easy words to figure out there are some standard differences. The main differences are mostly pesticides.
Any produce or meat that is free of pesticides, synthesized fertilizers, sewage sludge, toxic chemicals, hormones and any other harmful means. And the animals that produce, poultry, meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs, do not take any antibiotics or the growth hormones.
The USDA has acknowledged three categories to label the organic products:
- 100% Organic: These products are made with 100% organic ingredients
- Organic: These products are made with minimum of 95% organic ingredients
- Made With Organic Ingredients: These products are made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. For rest 30% there are strict restrictions on the use of genetically modified organisms or GMOs.
The products that are produced with less than 70% of the organic ingredients can list the organically produced ingredients only on the side panel and not make any organic claims.
The produce is grown close to the location where it is being purchased. Usually in the same state or a few hours drive away. As the local food doesn’t have to travel long distances, it can be ripened as nature intended, and handpicked when its nutritional value is highest. As the local food reaches the markets or restaurants in 24 to 48 hours, the products retain most of their nutritional value
Community Service Agriculture. This is an opportunity for city dwellers to purchase local, fresh, farmed produce. The consumer is “buying” into the shares of produce from the farmer. The consumer either picks up their produce at a selected destination or it is shipped to their home. This keeps the local farmers going and you get the benefit of “knowing” your food to where it came from and in some cases you can pick up the food from the farm itself. This is also a growing trend and actually cheaper than going to your local grocery store.
This term is used when it is the “standard” way they grow produce and care for meat. Here the former relies on technological and scientific developments to grow food. This means that there is the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers and GMOs to ensure consistent crops. Conventional food ,usually focuses on producing a large quantity at the lowest cost.
Below is the charts that display (provided by ewg.org) why is great to buy organic and what you can still purchase conventional. I suggest my patients to go to their local grocery store and search for selected items in order to stay healthy and happy. Many of my patients live in the inner city where there is what we call “food deserts” where fresh, local produce is very difficult to find. Similar to a desert where one searches for water, people here search for quality food. Before one can change the way they eat, they should change their thinking of food and one of the best ways to start is taking a “field trip”. At the end remember, it is important to enjoy your produce no matter how it is coming to your home!