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The term Organic is applied to food grown without harsh pesticides or certain types of pesticides (yes, it also means any carbon based life form, but that’s not the definition we’re working with today), and in the United States it’s a huge business. There are a myriad of reasons why one might choose to eat Organic food – they have a disease like cancer or an autoimmune disorder; they have small children; or they simply don’t wish to put a bunch of synthetic chemicals into their bodies. Some scoff at the Organic trend, saying that the amounts of pesticides that remain in our conventionally grown (non-organic) food aren’t a big deal, and if they were The Government would do something about it, while others claim it’s simply foolishness to pay more for say, a red pepper, because a farmer grows it differently.
Regardless of how you feel about Organic food and produce, one thing is for sure: Americans, by and large, have become profoundly disconnected from where their food comes from, and what it takes to get it to the grocery store. So to shed a little light on at least the Organic portion of your shopping cart, here are 25 Surprising Facts About Organic Food That You Might Want To Know.
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Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to what the name implies, pesticides are allowed in the growing of USDA Organic approved foods. There are over 40 pesticides on the allowable list that a farm can use and still get the USDA Organic stamp. So if not having pesticides is really important to you, know where your food comes from and what farms use pest control you agree with.
Most organic food travels over a thousand miles to get from the farm to your grocery store, and many organics still come from countries like Mexico and China, so if you’re eating organic to help the earth, you may want to pay as much attention to where your food comes from.
Processed foods labeled as “Organic” – say oatmeal or cookies – can contain up to 5% non-organic ingredients and still qualify to carry the USDA “Organic” label.
There aren’t any Federal regulations for sustainable or organic seafood because you can’t really regulate the ocean contents. So unless it’s verified by a third party or farmed seafood, anything that says “Organic” as far as fish and shellfish are concerned is at best bending the truth. It should, however, be noted that there are third parties that rate seafood for sustainability, but again, there’s not a US Government standard for this.
Bacteria content for organically grown and conventionally grown produce is about the same, according to researchers at Stanford. However, conventionally raised and produced animal products were about 33% more likely to contain antibiotic resistant microbes. Eek!
It’s still really important to thoroughly wash organic produce. Bacteria is different from pesticides and can make you very sick. All produce has bacteria and dirt on it. Wash your food.
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