Taking inventory of your refrigerator, cupboards and pantry, putting your shopping list together and cutting coupons all takes time before youre actually ready to get out of the house and make a trip to the grocery store. Once youre there, the next task is deciding whether or not to go with organic foods over the more conventional choices. Keeping yourself and your family nourished with all the good stuff isnt the easiest task these days with the aisles upon aisles that offer unhealthy temptations and the failure to realize all the benefits that come with investing in organic foods, since many people believe that stamping a product as organic is just a ploy to charge higher prices. Shopping at your local natural grocery store will help you gain more insight into the guidelines used in labeling organic foods and can make it a little easier to come to healthy decisions.
Organic Vs. Conventional
The basics of understanding what makes a food organic begins with knowing the procedure of how it was grown and processed. Organic products have been fertilized naturally with manure or compost and have been grown successfully using nontoxic methods to ward off damaging conditions, whereas conventionally grown produce has been chemically fertilized and sprayed with synthetic insecticides to fend off pests and disease. Animals raised under the more organically-friendly approach are given a healthy, balanced diet and have not been injected with hormones or antibiotics.
Organic Vs. 100 Percent Organic
The USDA-certified seal may only be displayed on foods that are proven to be 95 to 100 percent organic. If youre looking for foods and ingredients that have not been modified by any means, you will want to purchase products with a 100 percent organic label. Those foods containing at least 95 percent organic ingredients can use the seal but cannot claim to be wholly organic. If youre a real stickler, make sure youre checking carefully for that percentage indicator.
Seeing that there are organic ingredients in an item you pick up can get you excited a little too fast. Reading deeper into it, youll notice two different terms that are used - made with organic ingredients and contains organic ingredients. The first pertains to foods that have at least 70 percent organically grown elements that may be listed specifically on the front of the package, while the latter refers to foods with less than 70 percent.
Organic Vs. Natural
Many people use the term organic interchangeably with natural, but when it comes to food labels thats not the case. Natural, all-natural, free range and hormone-free are all ways that foods may be labeled to indicate how theyve been processed. It can be tricky to decipher the difference between these terms, but ultimately, unless its labeled organic it means the product has been inorganically processed in some manner.
If you have any confusion or questions regarding an organic food label, a natural grocery store may be the best place to gain answers. Being able to decode the nutritional facts on any food label and knowing exactly what is going into your body is key to empowering yourself on your quest for optimum health.
Tiffany Olson is a blogger and health enthusiast from Redding, Calif. She happily supports her Saturday farmers market as well as her local natural grocery store in Redding.