Should you buy organic? + How to read labels.

Should you buy organic? + How to read labels.

Quality matters. There’s no other way to scoot around the fact that there is a difference in the nutritional value of foods depending on how and where they are sourced.

This can be a touchy subject for some who want to argue, “well isn’t is better to eat a non-organic apple than no apple at all?”

Well yes, of course, but if it’s just as easy to reach for the food that has not been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, & fungicides and genetically modified as a science lab experiment, why not!?

Cost comes up as the #1 factor for many but you absolutely, 100% cannot put a price on your health. Without it, nothing else matters.

Time and time again, I see friends and clients bring up the cost factor of eating organic and then they turn around to eat out at lavish restaurants, bring their dog to the puppy spa, and buy things that are unnecessary & unneeded. Let’s prioritize here.

Your health and level of vitality is the greatest asset you possess. (Click to tweet!)

This blog today is for those of you who are ready. It’s for those that understand the importance of eating high-quality, organic, local foods but are unclear how to begin.

You have questions, such as:

  • What do the labels all mean?
  • Can I do all my shopping at a farmer’s market?
  • Where can I buy organic meat?
  • I don’t live near a health food store or Whole Foods. Am I doomed? (No, you’re not!)

Let me break it all down for you here…

To start, the label of “natural” doesn’t really mean anything, so don’t go based off that.

Food labeled as “natural” generated $22.3 billion in sales in 2008, up 10% from 2007, and up 37% from 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Journal of Food News and Culture states, “many Snapple drinks have the words “all natural” emblazoned on their labels, which would seem to imply an especially high percentage of natural ingredients, 100 percent, in fact. But Snapple Diet Peach Tea contains aspartame, a synthetic sweetener and suspected carcinogen.”

Natural basically means that one day, at some point, one of the ingredients was derived from something that came from the Earth. That’s pretty much the only restriction around that label.  It means nothing.

Take Away #1: Don’t rely on the labeling of “natural.” It’s a buzz word and has no validity on whether is it a health conscious choice or not.

Instead, look for USDA organic labels.

For fruit, follow these guidelines:

Look at the PLU code on the fruit, this has all the answers you need.

* 4 digits: The fruit likely comes with a burden of poisons and was grown in depleted soil.

* 5 digits, first is 8: This fruit is genetically modified, a GMO. It contains genes that were not put there by nature.

* 5 digits, first is 9: This fruit has been grown to an organic standard. Although the standard is not as strict as some produced by the most serious organic farmers, it is certainly superior to conventionally-grown or GMO fruit.

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Take Way #2: Know your labels. This immediately gives you power to know which foods will give your body the fuel necessary to thrive.

Farmer’s Markets are an invaluable asset to you on your journey to health & wellness. It is the place where all the local farmers in your town come together to share/sell the fruit of their labor.

These are individuals who have invested their time, love, money, and skill sets to raise and grow food that is of the highest quality.  Their animals are free to roam, play, eat, and live freely.  These animals are treated with care and compassion and slaughtered in gratitude for the nourishment they bring to us.

Compare that to factory farms, which now accounts for more than 99 percent of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the United States, which house hundreds of thousands of animals under one roof in filthy conditions.  There is death, disease, abuse and absolute disregard for the growth, development and wellness of the animal you are about to ingest to fuel your beautiful body.  The animals are fed growth hormones to grow faster and pumped full of antibiotics when they grow ill from the horrendous conditions of the factory farms.

Farmer’s Markets are a gift to our bodies and to the economy.  By shopping locally you are investing back into your community and supporting small business owners.  You are eating food that hasn’t been sprayed or processed and was grown and treated with love.

Local Harvest is a great tool to find your local Farmer’s Market.

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Take Away #3: Support farmers, shop locally, and eat high-quality, nourishing foods.

Organic meat, cheese, eggs, fruits & vegetables can be found at your local Farmer’s Market, health food store, co-op, or Whole Foods, however, if you don’t have any of those, you can STILL eat well!

Based off our above discuss of factory farmers, meat is one of the most important things to buy organic.

The requirements for organic poultry, cattle and pigs to be labeled as organic are:

  • Must be raised organically on certified organic pastures
  • Must be fed certified organic feed for their entire lives
  • No drugs, antibiotics or growth hormones are allowed*
  • Must have year-round outdoor access

*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork and poultry.

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The animals’ organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains and cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers. That is a HUGE win for you!

Thank you organic farmers!

There are some online retailers who will deliver this quality of food directly to your doorstep (I am not an affiliate of these businesses, just a happy & grateful customer):

1. US Wellness Meats: Founded by lifelong farmer John Wood, U.S. Wellness Meats grew out of John’s realization that there was a unique way of raising cattle for a growing niche of U.S. consumers who were beginning to understand the health benefits of CLA and omega-3s from free-range meat (that would be you!). Their beef, bison, & lamb are grass-fed and grass-finished, the poultry  is free-range, hormone free & antibiotic free, and they offer a variety of snacks, pet food, and supplements that are all of the highest quality.

2. Vital Choice: Before I go into how amazing and life-changing the Vital Choice wild Alaskan salmon is, let me first breakdown the difference between farm-raised and wild salmon.

I’ll refer to Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that has examined this subject in detail to explain the difference:

“Nearly all salmon Americans eat are farm-raised — grown in dense-packed pens near ocean shores, fed fish meal that can be polluted with toxic PCB chemicals, awash in excrement flushed out to sea and infused with antibiotics to combat unsanitary conditions. Some salmon are raised on farms that use more sustainable methods, but you can’t tell from the packaging.

Eating farmed salmon occasionally is not a great health concern, but risks can add up if you eat salmon often. But the long-term environmental damage caused by the industry is substantial. We recommend wild salmon over farmed whenever possible.”

The health risks are a concern and the taste difference will absolutely blow your mind! The salmon from Vital Choice is hands down the best fish I’ve ever had.  In addition to ample protein, Alaskan Sockeye salmon offers abundant omega-3s, as well as unrivaled levels of vitamin D.

3. Organic Veggie delivery:

Central Texas: Greenling

Colorado, Tri-State area, Michigan, Chicago, Kansas City: Door to Door Organics

Take Away #4: Even if you don’t have a Farmer’s Market or local health food store, you can still eat well with these incredible businesses that bring the food right to you.

Take Away #5: You are worth the investment.  Quality does matter.  And you matter.

Choose wellness and feed yourself the best.

Now, get to shopping and let me know what new & delicious foods you discover in the process!

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