Now you have a family and little kids to worry about. Homemade baby food? Grocery shopping was easy before they came along! With crazy news feeds to read it's hard not to debate whether you should switch your whole family to organic food only. What does organic really mean anyways?
According to the USDA, Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. But we all know that labels are misleading.
Organic: For a food to be labeled “organic” it must have been produced on a farm that is certified organic by a national governing organization in accordance with National Organic Program standards. Processed foods labeled organic must have at least 95% organic ingredients in order to bear this label.
100% Organic: Standards for this label are the same as for “organic” except that they must be entirely organic instead of just 95% organic.
Made with Organic Ingredients: At least 70% of the ingredients in these foods must be organic and the remaining ingredients must not be produced with sewage-sludge based products and/or ionizing radiation. This means that if you are purchasing a fresh made salsa that is labeled organic then at least 3/4 of the ingredients are organic.
Conventional: Produce deemed conventional are those that have not been grown under organic practices.
Natural: The USDA defines “natural” as a food not containing artificial ingredients or preservatives.
All Natural: Foods that are labeled “all natural” seem like they would be a good choice, but looking deeper shows that this term means less than you might think. While the term “Natural” is regulated, the phrase “all natural” is not and this means that it may or may not conform to the regulations of “natural.”
Being informed about what food labels mean will help you make smart decisions at the grocery store. Look for labels that are important to you and have real meaning. This can help prevent overpaying for inferior products, while allowing you to bring home nutritious food.
Can't switch entirely?
We know that switching the whole family to an organic diet isn't always easy or reasonable. If you want to keep your family as safe as you can without going crazy, then read the 2016 EWG’s Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.™ Their testing helps identify conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that tend to test low for pesticide residues. If a food whose conventional versions test high for pesticides, you can make an effort to locate organic versions for that fruit or vegetable.
To make it even easier, anything on the Dirty 12 list you may want to buy organic. If you still can't do that then clean your fruit/veggies naturally with a plant-based, biodegradable concentrate like the produce wash from Norwex.
Whatever you decide, you'll know what's best for your family.