Keep in mind that even if a producer is certified organic, the use of the USDA Organic label is voluntary. At the same time, not everyone goes through the rigorous process of becoming certified, especially smaller farming operations. When shopping at a farmers’ market, for example, don’t hesitate to ask the vendors how your food was grown.
Myth: Why is organic food often more expensive?
Organic food is more labor intensive since the farmers do not use pesticides, chemical fertilizers or drugs. Organic certification and maintaining this status is expensive. Organic feed for animals can cost twice as much. Organic farms tend to be smaller than conventional farms, which means fixed costs and overhead must be distributed across smaller produce volumes. Most organic farms are too small to receive government subsidies.
Myth: Eating organic food is the same as eating natural food.
Fact: Natural foods do not contain additives or preservatives, but they may contain ingredients that have been grown with pesticides or are genetically modified. In other words, the ingredients in the ingredient panel will look familiar, but they have not been produced organically. Natural foods are not regulated and do not meet the same criteria that organic foods do.
Myth: Organic food tastes like cardboard.
Fact: This may have been true of processed foods at one time—take crackers or pretzels for example—but this stereotype is as outdated as the hippie connotations that follow it. Today many organic snack foods taste the same as their conventional counterparts, while most people agree that fresh, locally grown organic produce does not compare to the alternative. Even organic produce that is not in season and has been shipped thousands of miles to reach our grocer’s shelves cannot compare to the produce found in our own back yard or at farmers markets. Taste is certainly an individual matter, so give organic a try and see what you think!
Try baking a couple batches of cookies or prepare a couple of bowls of fruit or vegetable salad; use organic ingredients in one and conventional ingredients in the other.