What Makes Certain Produce Organic?
Walking into the produce section of the grocery store we see all the different types of delicious fruits and veggies to choose from. While picking out what we need from our shopping list, we have a choice to choose between standard produce or the ones labeled “Organic”. In the back of our mind we have heard “shop organic” or “organic is better”, but we see the price tag and that the organic banana costs a little bit more and we think, is there really a big difference why is purchasing organic a better choice? Is it worth the extra money?
A fruit or vegetable labeled with the word “Organic”, indicates that that piece of produce was grown using methods approved by the USDA. These methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster the cycling of resources and promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity (USDA, 2011). As a part of these practices, there are certain agricultural methods that can not be used that include using synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering. All organic products certified by the United States Department of Agriculture are regulated by the National Organic Program. Regulating and the protection of organic integrity is taken very seriously. 30,000 on-site inspections per year take place by certifying agents to monitor the compliance with the USDA organic standards. The methods, regulations and standards in place for organic produce result in higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, and no use of manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilizers.
By purchasing organic produce, you are supporting organic farming methods which promote more environmentally sustainable management of land and natural resources. The use of organic farming methods such as plant rotation and plant waste compost has resulted in the enhancement of soil and water quality, the promotion of self-sustaining cycles of resources, and the reduction of pollution. Farmers have been using these sustainable methods to grow beautiful, organic produce that have shown to have a moderate increase in nutrients and lower levels or pesticides compared to standard produce, which is good for your health!
When picking out your organic produce look for the USDA Organic seal, which indicates the product is 100% organic. By purchasing organic, you can use your consumer power to support organic farmers, sustainable land management and the natural environment.