You’ve seen the word “organic” written on a number of items in the grocery store and you’ve definitely found yourself weighing the pros and cons of purchasing organic bananas over regular bananas, but do you actually know what the word means?
It isn’t just some sexy term that hipsters throw around to elevate their cool factor or a term written on menus so that restaurants can charge more money. After a lot of back and forth the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a list of qualifications that every food item must have in order to use the USDA Organic seal.
If you purchase an item that you think is organic and it doesn’t have this seal, it means that they didn’t meet the guidelines listed below:
- No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides
- No sewage sludge
- No irradiation
- No genetic engineering (GMOs)
- Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and grass in humane conditions and must be fed certified organic feed
- No antibiotic or growth hormones used on animals
This information can give you a better idea as to why organic food is pricier. By following several of these practices, farmers often have lower yields than when they used chemicals or genetically modified crops. In order to have funds for the following year’s crops, produce must be sold to stores at a higher price, which means consumers also pay more. Allowing cattle to roam freely requires having access to larger plots of land (which requires having money) and feeding them an organic diet is pricier for the same reason as above.
Now that you have this information, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to purchase primarily organic foods. At least this time around, you’ll have the knowledge to make an informed decision.