Natural VS Organic

Products with a “natural” label can be deceptive if you don’t know what you are looking for, when, in fact, in the US, there is no FDA or USDA regulation that can prohibit the use of a natural label on food. Foods labeled “natural” may have guidelines they need to follow but no requirements. The USDA Organic seal on products ensures that there was no use of irradiation, sewage sludge , synthetic fertilizers, and prohibited pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in a product. This is straightforward when you buy produce or meat with the USDA Organic seal, but is a little different with multi-ingredient foods, such as something you buy off of a shelf. In this case, to wear the USDA Organic seal, 95% of the products ingredients must be organic. Any lower than the 95% and ingredients need to be labelled organic in the description only, or might say “made with organic ingredients.”

So what do I buy organic?

When I was convincing my husband to buy all organic produce, I started taking a closer look at price. You might be surprised when you see that the price difference is decreasing a little bit between non-organic and organic food. In some cases, the prices are the same. When I’m walking through the produce aisle, here are 5 rules that I always stick to

  • Greens- You can almost always buy good organic greens. Spinach and kale tend to be some of the dirtiest vegetables out there, sprayed with dozens of pesticides.
  • Berries- Especially strawberries. Have you ever noticed that conventional strawberries have a more vibrant color to them than organic? Some conventional strawberries are enhanced with a contaminant fungicide captan, used in paints, wallpaper paste, and, unfortunately, sometimes on our fruits and vegetables.
  • Apples- Some fruits and vegetables carry most of their nutrients in the skins, and apples are one of them. The skins are also full of pesticides, so I always buy organic apples.
  • Cherry tomatoes- These are on the top of the dirty list, and buying small organic tomatoes (such as grape or cherry tomatoes) outside of tomato season is a good way to get your tomato fix.
  • Cucumber-These are one of the dirtiest veggies, known to have as many as 35 different pesticides found on the skin!

For a closer look at the updated Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, read all about it HERE

It takes a lot of work to clean up our food pantries and refrigerator content, and even harder to be aware of what we are eating when we dine out, so I try to stick to organics when I have control over what my family is eating at home.

What do you buy organic?