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Organic Food: What Makes It Organic and Why Should You Buy It?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 5 10

What does organic mean?

I think it's pretty safe to say that people generally associate the word "organic" with healthy, but do you know what being organic actually means?

The term organic essentially means that the manufacturer is using approved methods to produce items that are free from pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, horomones and other unnatural and harmful ingredients. 

How can you identify organic items at your grocery store?

USDA certified organic items carry a specific seal that can be easily identified by consumers.


organic seal

It is important to note that a product that is labled as "all natural" does not mean it is organic. A USDA organic seal has specific guidelines that must be followed in order to be able to use that label. Manufacturers are also inspected annually to ensure that they are following organic processes and meet the criteria for labeling.


Stoneyfield Chart
Credit: http://www.stonyfield.com/why-organic/organic-vs-natural

As you can see, there is a huge difference between being "all natural" and organic.

Why is organic a better choice?

Many consumers have a false sense of security when it comes to the the food we eat and the products we use in our homes every day. We blindly trust that if something wasn't safe that it wouldn't be able to be sold in our stores. Sadly, that simply is not true. So many of the products on shelves these days are loaded with pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO's), carcinogens, preservatives, synthetic horomones and many other harmful agents that are not good for you. Reading labels and buying organic products is especially important in homes with young children. Not only are children in the most critical years for brain development in the early years of life, but their bodies are phycially smaller than an adult and are more vulnerable.

Always look at the produce sticker

If there is any doubt about whether the produce in your hand is organic or not, look at the produce sticker. Each item carries an identifying number that can be easily decoded by consumers.

- If the PLU on your produce is a 4 digit code, it means that it is conventionally grown using pesticides.

- If the PLU on your produce has a prefix of 8 in front of the 4 digit code (example: 84011) it indicates that the produce is a genetically modified or GMO. Click here for more information on GMO's.

-If the PLU on your produce has a prefix of 9 in front of the 4 digit code (example: 94011), it indicates that the produce is organic.

Sadly, at this point in time, there are no regulations in place that force grocers to label their produce with the 8 prefix. This means that the only way to truly avoid GMO's is to buy organic products.

The "dirty dozen"

There is a list widely known as "the dirty dozen". These are the top 12 items that are the most important to buy organic. The reason for this is because they are the items that are treated with the most pesticides and harmful agents.

These items are the most important to buy organic.

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Kale
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

The items listed below are slightly safer to buy non-organic because they don't require as many pesticides.

  • Onions
  • Avocadoes
  • Sweet Corn (watch out for GMO!)
  • Pineapples
  • Mangoes
  • Sweet Peas
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Eggplants
  • Papayas
  • Watermelons
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes

In my opinion, we should buy organic products whenver possible. The best gift we can give our children and ourselves is a healthy life.



Mar 19, 2013 7:12pm
I didn't know about the produce sticker. Thank you for the information.
Mar 19, 2013 7:38pm
Great info :)
Apr 13, 2013 1:01am
It is actually not only a matter of the food being better but it is also something to do about a better way to produce food in terms of environment as you show in the chart. Great info, thanks for sharing. Thumbed up.
Apr 13, 2013 9:00am
great info helps a lot :)
Apr 13, 2013 4:32pm
Great info. Great article. Thanks!
Apr 13, 2013 5:57pm
HappyHomeZone, this is a very informative article and thank you for explaining what organic food is. I consider organic foods to be "old school" foods. In my opinion, not enough food experts explain how our foods are processed. This is a disservice because this directly affects our health. I love the way you inserted a label to help people understand the difference between "all natural" and organic. Brillant! I would strongly suggest that you write more articles on this subject. Great job!
Apr 14, 2013 9:53am
Thank you so much for all the feedback! It's nice to know that my article has helped, even a little. Thanks for reading! :)
Apr 15, 2013 9:17am
great article!
Apr 16, 2013 12:43pm
This is a great read. Organic food is always a lot healthier for you then anything else.
May 4, 2013 4:40pm
Very useful article. I agree that organic food is a much better solution. A problem, though, is the higher price in the market which many people cannot afford.
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