Organic Foods 101: What You Need to Know

Over the past years, due in large part to increased awareness, the organic food movement has gained much ground. Advocates and “converts” alike have campaigned for reform, especially in regards to farming methods that negatively impact human health and the environment. There have been significant milestones since 2002, when the USDA released their national standards for organic foods. Indeed, the organic food movement has slowly but surely gained steadier global footing.

If the increase in organic grocery stores and the variety of organic products available nowadays are any indication, then the movement is quite successful. Indeed, even online supermarkets in Mauritius now offer various organic produce and food products. There’s still a long way to go, however. Indeed, many consumers are still not as well-informed about organic foods. Most of the time, they merely equate organic foods as being the healthier or safer option. However, this information barely scratches the surface.

Truly, there’s so much more to know about organic foods and the organic food movement. Here are a few of them.

What is “Organic?”

Produce is considered organic if they are grown without using chemicals or artificial pesticides. If there are pests, bugs, and weeds, farmers must only use natural means to control them. Moreover, only natural fertilisers such as compost can be used. Once the food is harvested, the produce must be sold as is. No preservatives are allowed, not even wax to “finish” the produce and make them look more presentable.

When it comes to meat and animal products, the animals should be given organic feed. In addition, farmers are not allowed to use growth hormones, antibiotics, or other non-organic supplements. The animals should also be raised in a natural habitat. Both organic produce and animal products also cannot be altered by scientists in any way. This rules out GMOs or genetically modified organisms.

Organic is Not a New Thing

The organic movement might seem like a new development. However, all crops before World War II were actually organic. Synthetic pesticides and fertilisers were only developed afterwards. Over the years, people have come to realise the long-term health effects and environmental impact of chemical residues. This eventually triggered the resurgence of organic farming.

Everyone Can (and Should) Eat More Organic Produce

One of the primary goals of organic farming is to preserve the environment. Another is to increase sustainability, which can in turn contribute to the fight to end world hunger. Some critics say that it’s impossible for organic food farmers to meet the demand if everyone ate organic meat. Nevertheless, eating less meat will help restore the land so that they can yield more organic produce. This, in turn, can help drive down the cost of organic food products and therefore expand access.

Organic Produce May Have More Nutrients
Some organic foods may contain more nutrients simply because of the way they were farmed. Moreover, organic foods can also lessen your exposure to harmful chemicals like synthetic pesticides. In this way, organic foods are definitely healthier. Another good thing about organic produce? They’re almost always fresher than non-organic food. You may also notice a difference in taste and flavour due to the absence of chemicals.

Organic Produce Has Fewer Bugs

You might think that organic produce will have more bugs in them because farmers don’t use pesticides. However, because farmers use only natural pest control, the soil becomes healthier and more balanced.. In turn, this makes organic crops more resistant to bugs and other crop diseases.

There Are Different Levels of Organic

To know which products are 100% organic, check the label. Remember that only food products that are grown and harvested using approved methods are 100% organic. Organic fruits, vegetables, and eggs are often 100% organic. Other products may still be considered organic as long as their composition meets the set standards. Usually, you will see labels such as “made from organic products” or something similar.

Processed Foods Can Still Be Organic

Going off the previous point, processed foods may still be considered organic. If it’s produced with organic ingredients and without minimal preservatives, then it can be labelled as organic. Again, note that while it can be labelled as organic, it can’t be 100% organic as it has undergone processing.

Organic Foods WILL Spoil Faster

Organic foods aren’t treated with preservatives. As such, they will spoil faster than non-organic foods. Keep this in mind when you buy produce and other organic products in bulk.

Non-Food Items Can Also Be Organic

The term “organic” can also be applied to non-food items, like clothes that have been made using organic fibres. Cosmetics, paper products, flowers, and even furniture can also be classified and certified as organic. If you’re slowly transitioning into a more sustainable lifestyle, you may want to consider these products.

Industrial agriculture has one primary goal: maximise yields in order to produce more food for more people. However, resources are not preserved in this manner. Maximised production also doesn’t equate to maximised efficiency. Organic farming, and therefore organic food, is much more sustainable. The yields may not be as high, but the process doesn’t compromise the integrity of the environment.

If you’re able to make the choice, why not give try organic foods? It’s a small step toward a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle that also helps preserve the planet we live in.

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