What ‘organic’ means
From apples to ice pops, fruit snacks to popcorn, organic items are filling store shelves and are one of the fastest growing sectors in the food market. As more and more people become concerned about the planet and their waistlines, it makes sense that they’re looking for better options to eat. But does organic always mean better?
The first thing you need to know is that ‘organic’ is a description of how food is produced, not necessarily how healthy it is, says dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller. The biggest factor in the organic label is whether or not certain pesticides and chemicals were used during the farming or harvesting process. So if you’re concerned about toxins in your food, it makes sense to buy organic – at least in some cases.
What’s more, organic meat and organic dairy could have more healthy fats, according to a pair of studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition. And organic produce has more antioxidants than conventional varieties, according to a separate study published in the same journal. But the nutrition varies greatly between foods and while it may be worth it to buy organic for foods on the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list, there are plenty of foods where conventional is just as good as organic, Kostro Miller says.
Organic macaroni and cheese
White pasta doesn’t need to be organic because it’s so highly processed that the outer layers of the wheat – the part that pesticides adhere to – are stripped off, making pesticide residue of little concern, says dietitian, Jodi Greebel.
Organic seed butters
Going organic for peanut butter is a good idea, but save your money when it comes to seed butter, Greebel says. “Sunflower seeds, for example, generally don’t have quite as high a pesticide residue,” she explains.