Are "Organic" foods really better?

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed.

What is organic?

The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to meet the following goals:

  • Enhance soil and water quality

  • Reduce pollution

  • Provide safe, healthy livestock habitats

  • Enable natural livestock behavior

  • Promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm

Materials or practices not permitted in organic farming include:

  • Synthetic fertilizers to add nutrients to the soil

  • Sewage sludge as fertilizer

  • Most synthetic pesticides for pest control

  • Irradiation to preserve food or to eliminate disease or pests

  • Genetic engineering, used to improve disease or pest resistance or to improve crop yields

  • Antibiotics or growth hormones for livestock

Organic crop farming materials or practices may include:

  • Plant waste left on fields (green manure), livestock manure or compost to improve soil quality

  • Plant rotation to preserve soil quality and to interrupt cycles of pests or disease

  • Cover crops that prevent erosion when parcels of land are not in use and to plow into soil for improving soil quality

  • Mulch to control weeds

  • Predatory insects or insect traps to control pests

  • Certain natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides approved for organic farming, used rarely and only as a last resort in coordination with a USDA organic certifying agent

Organic farming practices for livestock include:

  • Healthy living conditions and access to the outdoors

  • Pasture feeding for at least 30 percent of livestock's nutritional needs during grazing season

  • Organic foods for animals

Check Labels

iCook is an organic meal deliver service we use the same guidelines that the USDA uses to describe organic products on labels, which are the following:

  • 100 percent organic. This description is used on certified organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat or other single-ingredient foods. It may also be used on multi-ingredient foods if all of the ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water. These may have a USDA seal.

  • Organic. If a multi-ingredient food is labeled organic, at least 95 percent of the ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water. The nonorganic items must be from a USDA list of approved additional ingredients. These also may have a USDA seal.

  • Made with organic. If a multi-ingredient product has at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients, it may have a "made with organic" ingredients label. For example, a breakfast cereal might be labeled "made with organic oats." The ingredient list must identify what ingredients are organic. These products may not carry a USDA seal.

  • Organic ingredients. If less than 70 percent of a multi-ingredient product is certified organic, it may not be labeled as organic or carry a USDA seal. The ingredient list can indicate which ingredients are organic.

Due to increase in awareness with eating healthy and learning the difference between organic and non. Marketing people are coming with creative ways to market their produces. One of the question we keep hearing is pertaining to the word “Natural”, people are asking us if “natural” and organic are the same thing. No, they are not interchangeable terms. In general, "natural" on a food label means that it has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. It does not refer to the methods or materials used to produce the food ingredients.

Other common food terms should also not be confused with organic. For example, the guidelines for certified organic beef or grass-fed beef include — among a number of requirements — access to pasture during a minimum 120-day grazing season and no growth hormones. But the labels "free-range" or "hormone-free," while they must be used truthfully, do not indicate a farmer followed all guidelines for organic or grass-fed certification.

iCook strongly believe in organic eating, we have for the past 7 years. There is a growing body of evidence that shows potential health benefits of organic foods when compared to conventionally grown and genetically modified foods. For example, there was a study done (posted by huffpost.com) on a family who normally eats conventional food and they switch to an organic diet for two weeks. The results were outstanding! Another article was published by USA today showing a team of researchers studied 68,946 adult volunteers from France over a period of 7 years. They came to the conclusion that people who regularly ate organic foods were less likely to develop cancer than those who didn’t.  There are hundreds of article and studies showing the benefits of an organic diet vs conventional and GMO diets. iCook is striving to create a cost effective simply option for everyone to eat organically.