Always look for the USDA Certified Organic sticker on your food to confirm that what you are purchasing is 100% organic.
For produce, look for a small sticker of this label or check the signage in the produce section for this seal. The word “organic” and this seal can also appear on packages of meat, cartons of milk or eggs, cheese, and other one ingredient foods.
Processed foods and beverages use the following terminology to indicate their use of organic ingredients.
Made with 100% organic ingredients (not including salt or water) and can display the USDA Organic seal.
Made with at least 95–99% organic ingredients (by weight). The remaining ingredients are not available organic. These products may display the USDA Organic seal.
Made With Organic Ingredients:
Contains 70–94% organic ingredients. These products DO NOT have the USDA Organic seal. Organic ingredients may be listed on the front of the package.
Products with less than 70% organic ingredients can only list organic ingredients on the side of the package and DO NOT have the USDA Organic seal.
Keep in mind that even if a producer is certified organic, the use of the USDA Organic label is voluntary. At the same time, not everyone goes through the process of becoming certified, especially smaller farming operations. When shopping at a farmers’ market, for example, don’t hesitate to ask the vendors how your food was grown.
The Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen are the 12 produce items that are most contaminated with pesticides .
These fruits and vegetables are the highest sprayed with pesticides. Always buy these ORGANIC:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
The Cleaner (but still sprayed with pesticides) Dozen
These fruits and vegetables are the least sprayed (with pesticides). Although I personally eat 100% organic, many people throughout our country cannot find organic food every day. These 12 items have less pesticides/toxic load than the Dirty Dozen list above.
- Frozen Sweet Corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Kiwi Fruit
Some people are hesitant to change their purchasing habits and diets to buying and eating organic food. A common argument is organic food is too expensive, which in fact can be true. But there are ways to stick to your budget, while also looking at the benefits of purchasing organic food.
For instance, the price of foods from smaller organic farms reflect the true costs of the labor it takes in growing the crop; organic farmers don’t receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers do. Organic farming is more labor and management intensive, too. When one buys organic food, he or she pays not only for the healthy product, but respectful labor practices as well.
It is also important to know organic foods are not grown with pesticides or other genetic modification methods, as some natural foods are. Note that organic produce often tastes better than produce grown in other methods. Also, in today’s health conscious market, anything can be made organic – even organic snack foods are delicious. Before thinking conventional food tastes better, head over to Whole Foods Market or your local health food store to try organic versions of your favorite organic foods!
Still not convinced? Let’s go into detail about how eating organic is beneficial – for you and others. First, buying organic food supports food processes that keep toxic chemicals out of the air, soil, water, and our bodies – less energy is used, too. With industrial agriculture, pesticides and other invisible poisons extend beyond farms and the farmers and drift into other communities on a global scale – even into our oceans. Studies show pesticides and other chemicals can harm the nervous system, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease fertility. If fewer chemicals are in our environment, future generations can continue to thrive. Additionally, organic processes produce food with greater levels of vitamins and minerals due to healthy soil. Some organic produce is even lower in nitrates and higher in antioxidants, creating food that tastes better, too! Knowing this, who would even think to eat industrialized cloned (conventional) food? That’s right – numerous processes involve genetically modifying food. Would you rather have a perfect strawberry from healthy soil on a small farm or a strawberry grown with chemicals to produce “perfection”? Lastly, organic farms don’t destroy the habitats of animals and other life that takes place there. In contrast, industrial farms involve construction and deforestation, not to mention the production of unhealthy foods.
I eat 100% organic because I care about what I put into my body. I spent 30 years eating conventional food and became very sick from pesticides & toxic chemicals on fruit and vegetable produce as well as the antibiotics & hormones in meat and dairy.
Looking for ways to save money by eating organic? Check out my article on How to Save Money When Buying Organic Food.