Let's talk organic

The other day while finishing up our grocery shopping I made my way to the checkout and the woman cashier that was scanning my produce asked, “What’s the difference between an organic banana and a regular one?” What a great question. Why hadn’t I thought to explain this before? I’m certain other people want to know so let’s talk organic. 

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) explains organic: 

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.  Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

No pesticides, man-made additives, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or chemicals. Think of organic food as having none of the yucky stuff and being better for our planet. 

So does organic mean healthy?

No, not always. Some people misinterpret the word organic to mean healthy but organic just refers to how the product or produce is made. Organic food cuts out the chemicals, pesticides and other unnecessary additives, so in this way it is definitely “healthier” than its counterpart but organic does not acutually mean healthy. The word healthy means promoting health and here’s the thing… would you consider eating lots of sugar healthy? No. We know that lots of sugar leads to diabetes, decreased immune function, obesity and even premature aging. Organic processed foods still have sugar. It’s not high fructose corn syrup or GMO beet sugar but it is sugar. Some people see a box of organic cookies and think, “Healthy. Healthy. Healthy.” They eat the whole box believing that it does a body good. Although most organic companies tend to be more conscious about how much and what kind of sweeteners that they use in their products there is often still just as much sugar in an organic cookie as there is in a non-organic one. Eating organic is definitely a step towards being conscious of a healthy lifestyle but does not mean we’re eating healthy. You can still eat organic french fries, ice cream and there’s definitely organic candy. All foods we wouldn't consider part of a healthy diet.

Does organic taste different?

Some people say, “Yes! A million times over.” and others argue, “no.” An organic banana and a non-organic banana are both grown on trees. As far as we know they have the same nutritional content (although more recent studies are suggesting otherwise). However, organic produce is grown in a natural, healthy and balanced soil. In this way some people attest to it having lots more flavor. It’s often misunderstood that organic means something special was added to the product, but besides a little loving care organic just means none of the “harmful stuff”. 

What do you think? Does organic taste different? Hammy seems to think so :-)