In one hand, you’re holding a conventionally grown granny smith apple. In your other hand, you have one that’s labeled organically grown. Both apples are firm, shiny and green. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. This scenario, provided by the Mayoclinic.com/health, leaves us with the questioning which one to actually choose. However before making this decision, it is important to become educated on what the word “organic” even means and why it is beneficial. There are several distinctions between the organic and non-organic growing process. The conventional way of farming consists of chemical fertilizers, insecticides, chemical herbicides, as well as hormone and antibiotics given to animals. On the other hand, organic farming consists of natural fertilizers, insect traps, rotating and mulching crops, and organic feed for animals. Just the sounds of these words gives us a good idea of which products and techniques are harmful and which ones are natural and safe.
However, how do we know if a product is really organic? This is a common question that many consumers ask. To verify the credibility of sellers, the U.S Department of Agriculture (better known as the USDA) has created a seal for products that meet government organic standards. If a product is branded with a USDA ORGANIC seal then we as consumers can be assured that at least 95% of the product is produced with natural ingredients. Products that are purely organic carry a label that states 100% Organic and a small USDA seal. There are also products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients and these are labeled as “Made with organic ingredients.” It is extremely crucial to look for these labels because companies have ways of making products seem safer than they really are. If you see a product that says “hormone free,” it is an important distinction and is not to be confused with an organic product. One particular place to be aware of when shopping for organic foods is at the “Ma & Pop” stores. Many of these places, often times local farms, claim that their food is organic. Although it may be, according to mayoclinic.com/health, it is difficult to prove because producers that sell less than $5,000 worth of products throughout the year are exempt from the USDA certification. Now that you are aware of the labels you need to specifically look for, you may still wonder “why should you still purchase organic rather than non-organic?”
The American Chemical Society claims that fruits and veggies grown organically show significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown foods, according to a new study of corn, strawberries and marionberries. Aside from potentially shielding us from a deadly disease, organic foods also offer more nutrients than conventionally grown foods. Many studies are still being conducted to see what other benefits there are from organic products, but for now we do know that they are safer than those that are chemically filled. Many experts do say however, that it is not so much about food being organic but about what type of food one is eating. But the questions remain over how we eat in general. It may feel better to eat an organic Oreo than a conventional Oreo, however according to Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University, organic junk food is still junk food. So before we go out and by the more expensive organic food we need to make a commitment to ourselves that we want to become healthy.
For those of us on campus, we are faced with a limited choice of food options.
Although the origin of the food served on campus is somewhat questionable, there are still a number of healthy choices that we can make. Organic or not, choosing a salad with fresh vegetables over a burger with fries is still the ideal health choice to make. If you are picking up a quick snack, instead of choosing a sugar filled carbonated beverage and a salty excessively filled carbohydrate why not go for some hummus and an all natural Odwalla drink? C.W. Post does offer many healthy choices and it is just a matter of looking for them. Including more organic grown products may be slightly more expensive for C.W. Post, but senior Rob Misseri says, “I would definitely rather see more organic food, even if it cost a little more.” However, all students don’t feel this way. Junior Ashton Zabatt states, “I personally don’t care about organic foods, in grocery stores I always choose the regular food over organic and I would do the same if it was offered at school too.”
So, next time you are standing in the grocery store and debating between that organically grown granny smith apple and the conventionally grown one, maybe you will remember the differences between both and such information will aid you in making the better choice. Which ever you choose and for whatever reason, the most important thing is that you still chose the apple over the bag of chips. Gaining knowledge on what you are eating is a choice that can only benefit us as individuals and guarantee a healthy lifestyle.