Shopping for organic food has certainly gained popularity and is no longer for tree huggers or one of those fad-diet crazes going around. People are switching to organic food options because they’re told it’s a healthier option. But there are still questions about what organic really means and how it differs from conventional food. Well, we have some answers for you!
As the United States population gets larger, it requires more food. And because food production pressure has increased, sadly many food corporations have turned a blind eye to sustaining the environment while growing and processing that food for consumption. In order to get enough food, pesticides are used to keep predators away from growing crops and livestock are given hormones to increase their growth. Both practices jeopardize food safety and consumers are selecting organic food options to avoid the risk. According to the Hartman Group’s 2012 Organic and Natural Report, three-fourths of U.S. consumers are organic consumers.
Organic food and produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). And animals raised organically for meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products do not receive antibiotics or growth hormones.
The Pesticide Action Network works to replace the use of pesticides with environmentally safe alternatives. Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network of North America spokesperson, said there are more safe and eco friendly opportunities for fighting pests that threaten crops.
“The most important alternative to pesticides is a shift to green pest management and to build a more sustainable food and farming system that will leave communities healthier in the process,” Towers said.
Much research has been done on pesticide use and many forms, such as DDT, have been banned for use due to the adverse affects on the environment. If consumers do not want to eat food that has been grown with artificial pesticides, organic food options are available at some supermarket chains such as Whole Foods, most Walmart locations and at local farmer’s markets.
“Shopping for organic food does not solve the larger problems facing the industrial food system, but it’s a step toward supporting farmers who don’t use hazardous pesticides that end up in our air, water and the food we eventually eat,” Towers added.
For most shoppers, the organic food price tag is the biggest obstacle. Yes, organic foods can have a higher price tag, but it’s worth it. When shopping for produce, keep an eye out for five-digit sticker numbers that begin with nine because they are organically grown. And read the labels on packaged products including meat and poultry before you buy them. To learn more about pesticides commonly used in food production click here.
Photo Credits: Flickr/Ano Lobb; George M. Groutas