Understanding Organic Certified Foods


When you go to the grocery store, you’ll find a wide variety of organic foods. Many of these foods are vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, dairy products, and seeds.

The number of organic foods doesn’t just stop at these natural foods we find.  Many stores have a wide variety of organic foods which are processed.  These include foods such as cookies, potato chips, jelly beans, and even alcohol.  There’s a problem with this because people perceive that these processed foods are organic no matter what the food may be because they see the organic label, but this may not be the case and the food may not be all that healthy.

Many processed foods have the organic label says spokesperson and dietitian Andrea Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D.  When people see the organic food label they automatically think that the food is healthy no matter what processed ingredients may be included in that that food.

Organic just means that the food is farmed differently.  This is great for our planet, but it doesn’t mean that the food is healthy for you.  Organic chocolate chip cookies for example, can be made with organic ingredients like chocolate, butter, sugar, and wheat, but we all know that cookies are good for us.  The nutritional profile of the cookies can be just the same as a highly processed bag of cookies even if the ones we’re looking at say organic on the label.  This is why the organic label can be confusing.

There are many organic junk foods that contain processed ingredients such as oils, salt, sugars, and refined white flour.  These foods give you a lot of calories as well as sodium and not much nutrition.  These foods they say organic but they’re still lacking in nutrition.

Processed foods are in opposition to what we think of when we talk about organic.  Organic foods are supposed to be friendly to the environments and reduce or carbon footprint.  Unfortunately, many processed foods require a lot of resources to process them.  Real organic foods like an apple don’t take a lot of processing especially if they are grown locally.  This is what a real organic food is supposed to be.

Before you buy a so called organic food you need to read the label.  Don’t read the label on the front, but read the actual nutrition label.  This will list the ingredients so you know what you’re getting when you buy that food.  You need to look at saturated fat, calories, sodium, sugar, fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins.  This will tell you how healthy the food actually is.  If you see refined ingredients high on the label list such as sugar, white flour, or other highly processed ingredients then the food is probably highly processed and you don’t want to buy it.

You may find a common food such as organic crackers for example, to have a lot of processed flour.  In this case you would want the crackers to be made with whole grains which would make them healthier for you.  Sugars or another cause of concern and they can be hidden with words such as evaporated cane juice or organic brown rice syrup.  These are just other words for sugar.  Watch out for foods such as energy bars, candy, sweetened beverages, and chips that say organic because in reality they are just junk foods with the organic label and have no nutrition that the body needs.

You want to spend your organic dollars on foods that are healthy for you.  These are the organic whole plant foods like grains, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fruits.  These foods have the minerals, fiber, protein, nutrients, and other things that your body needs for optimal health.  These foods are low in saturated fat, sugar, and calories.  You want to buy food that is as close to nature as possible.

The Real Meaning of Organic

National Organic Program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict guidelines for the growing of organic foods.  This includes the restriction of growth hormones, fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and antibiotics.  Organic foods are supposed to be good for the environment as well as the person needing them because they are not exposed to any of these agents.  Organic foods promotes a healthy ecosystem, healthy soil, and a better water supply.  Organic food standards however, have nothing to do with the nutritional profile of food.

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