To be Organic or not to be? That is the question

Posted on December 6, 2011 by


There are many gimics food companies use to pull you in. Many of us are unaware of their deceptions, and they tend to entice us without question. Things like “Reduced Fat,” “Added Vitamins,” and so on. But what about the new craze sweeping over us? The craze I speak of is this huge desire for organic products. You see all sorts of these labels: “Organic,” “Made with Natural Ingredients,” “Free-Range,” etc. What do all of these mean? Are they all the same? Not at all. In fact, some of them may not mean what you think they mean at all.

Let us start with the big one: “Organic.” What is it? When most of us see this label placed on the front of our cereal, fruit, or vegetables (among other things) we just associate it as good. Well, we are right! Organic foods, when marked with an organic label approved by the USDA, means that it is produced with at least a 95% organic, non-chemically made product(s). There are no pesticides, fertilizers, or anything else that may be considered harmful to your body after you injest it. So go ahead and eat up!

While products labeled as organic are items that you know have nothing unnatural, there are still some items that try and deceive you. The term “Free-Range,” although can be a good thing, may be misleading. When we think of free-range eggs for example, we are led to believe that the chickens who produced them live(d) in a peaceful environment, where they are free to roam either indoors or outdoors. This can be very true, but it can also be very misleading. The USDA offers a very simple definition of what requires something to be labeled as “Free-Range.” It simply states, “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” That is all! There are no other requirements, no additions to the definition, nothing. A lot of times, the companies who produce these eggs keep their chickens in huge warehouse looking enclosures with a roof on top. They way they consider themselves free-range is that they add a small access door on the side of the building. The chickens can technically go in and out, but there are so many of them that most will never find their way through the crowd to get outside before they die or are slaughtered. If buying free range animal products is important to you, you must do your research in order to find the farms that provide respectable living conditions for their animals.

Another term which can be very deceptive is “Made with Natural Ingredients.” Considering what I have already said, take a moment to try and figure out why this phrase can cause problems…

Figure it out? A company can legally label a food product with this if it contains at least two natural ingredients. However, if the product has two natural ingredients and 48 unnatural ingredients, are you really getting what you think you are getting? Absolutely not!

Don’t be duped into buying something because of what the box says. A company will put anything it can on their product to get you to buy it. The best advice is to read the ingredients. If you see something that you have never heard of, it is probably a wise idea to go with another product.