Thursday, April 15, 2010

Organic & Natural Living Thursday!

Ever wondered what the term Organic really means? What's the difference between foods labeled Natural and ones labeled Organic? What about the difference between Natural and Conventional Cleaners?

Today I thought I'd just break it down. Sometimes it helps to know what it all means in order to make the choice that's best for your own family.

What does organic mean?
Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

How do I know if something is organic?
The USDA has identified for three categories of labeling organic products:

100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients

Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients

Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

Why does organic cost more?
The truth of the matter is that organic food doesn’t always cost more. Some items, such as coffee, cereal, bread, and even hamburger, may cost the same or even less than their conventional counterparts. And, as the demand for organics continues to grow, the cost will continue to come down.

When the cost is higher, consider these facts:
  • Organic farmers don’t receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers do. Therefore, the price of organic food reflects the true cost of growing.
  • The price of conventional food does not reflect the cost of environmental cleanups that we pay for through our tax dollars.
  • Organic farming is more labor and management intensive.
  • Organic farms are usually smaller than conventional farms and so do not benefit from the economies of scale that larger growers get.

What does Natural mean?

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.

What's the difference between natural and conventional cleaners?

Today’s household cleaners often contain synthetic chemicals that can make the simple act of cleaning a hazardous task. Researchers have linked many of the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products to illnesses that include allergies and asthma, cancer and reproductive issues. The problems these chemicals cause don't happen overnight. Only very rarely will the use of a chemical cleaner one day make us sick the next. Instead, even though we don't realize it, we're exposed to small amounts of the toxic chemicals in a cleaner's formula every time we use it. We inhale a little bit of the product when we spray it or smell its fumes. We absorb it through our skin. We even sometimes accidentally eat it when it goes from our hands or the air into our food or drink.

"Green cleaners" are made from non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients like pure vegetable oils, natural minerals, and harmless hydrogen peroxide. These products don't expose us to dangerous chemicals nor do they pollute the air we breathe.

All this info came from, Seventh Generation and Planet Discovery. Check them out for much more in depth information!


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