Organic foods have become very popular in recent years and can be found in most grocery stores. In fact, Costco is the largest seller of organic foods in the country. But what exactly does organic mean and is it worth the usually higher price?
Organic produce means the crops were grown without the use of chemicals, such as petroleum-based or sewage sludge-based fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. You’ve probably heard about genetically altered crops in the news, and organic produce doesn’t have this kind of bioengineering either.
Organic livestock raised for meat, dairy and eggs must be given organic feed – made from the pesticide free, natural crops and have no animal by-products. The animals are not given growth hormones or antibiotics, and often are "free-range" where they live outdoors and are not kept caged or in a crowded, inhumane way.
Benefits of Organic Foods:
- Often fresher because it doesn't contain preservatives to make it last longer.
- Meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, and the produce has more antioxidants.
- Organic farmers use naturally-derived pesticides, which are believed to be less toxic than synthetic ones. Natural pesticides also means it's safer for the birds, animals and the people who live near the farms.
- Organic farming is better for the environment. It reduces pollution and soil erosion, conserves water and uses less energy.
Organic foods generally cost more than their conventional counterparts, so you may need to set priorities to stay within your grocery budget. Sites like Livestrong provide lists of recommended foods to buy as organic because of the very high levels of chemicals in their regular counterparts.
For other cost savings, you could also join a food co-op or Community Supported Agriculture farm, shop at a farmer's market or learn what fruits to buy when they are in-season and cheaper.