Do organic foods outweigh the conventionally produced products you see at the store? Are they more nutritious and worth the cost?
When you head to the grocery store, shopping for products like eggs, meat, fish, milk, and produce can be very tricky. Signs are posted everywhere labeling food as natural, organic and a number of other things. But what’s the difference, really? Learning what specific names mean can help you decide if you should shell out extra money on a product, whether the nutrition value is better or if it is simply a marketing ploy.
The Nutrition of Organic Foods
This is a term associated with a number of fruit and vegetable products. Typically, this is simple a marketing ploy to convince you to buy the product. After all, all fruits and vegetables are natural, right? 😀 Unless it’s a new kind of food that has been developed and processed, the product is natural.
Typically foods grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers are organic. There are two main benefits to organic foods. First, you are helping the environment as chemicals are not being introduced into nature. Second, you are avoiding ingesting chemicals and are therefore benefiting by using a healthier food. While organic products are usually more expensive, studies have shown that they are higher in antioxidants. They are also lower in toxins and chemicals (from synthetic fertilizers and chemicals).
If you’re on a budget, you could skip over organic fruits and vegetables that you can peel, like oranges and bananas. After all, once you’ve discarded the peel, you’ve also discarded most of the chemicals. Instead, opt for organic items like apples, where you eat the peel. Or carrots that don’t have that protective skin or peel.
This is usually in regard to milk or meat products and can be misleading. All animals naturally produce hormones. Hormones are what helps an animal (even a human) regulate body organs, have young and otherwise function. All meat products have hormones.
What the label really means is that no hormones were unnaturally given to the animal. This is done to increase milk production or fatten the animal quicker before slaughter. This would be growth hormones, which are typically given to the animals through their feed. If you are concerned about ingesting meat products that came from animals given hormones, then you may want to consider organic, pasture raised or grass-fed products.
A label typically on eggs that indicates if the hen was caged or penned. This implies that the bird was happily wandering around, scratching at the ground and eating whatever it pleases. BUT the this may not always be the case. It merely means that the hen wasn’t kept in a cage; it doesn’t not mean it was able to venture outside. These eggs may or may not contain antibiotics. They also may or may not contain omega 3 fatty-acids. It all depends on what food was made available to the chicken (or other birds).
This is probably what you are thinking of when you buy cage-free eggs. Animals that are pasture raised are allowed to wander, usually in a large penned area with plenty of room for everyone to graze. Beef, pigs and lamb can also be pasture raised, or grass-fed. Foods from these animals typically have higher amounts of omega 3 fatty-acids. They also have less or no antibiotics versus cage-free or conventionally raised animals.
Need More Information?
Do you have more questions about organic foods and nutrition? Feel free to reach out to me through the contact form on the right or on my Contact page. I’d be happy to speak with you.
And don’t forget, if you aren’t sure of what you are doing in the kitchen but want to eat healthy, you can sign up for my FREE Cooking Basics how-to-tips! You’ll get an email every week for an entire year. That’s 52 helpful kitchen tips! Everything from how to make the perfect fried egg to different ways to prepare vegetables and how to freeze those fruits & veggies you find at the market 🙂
Enjoy and Be Healthy!