A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Food 

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Health

You’ve seen organic food in the grocery store, but maybe you don’t really understand the point. It can seem like it’s just the more expensive version of the same food that you usually buy, and why would you pay more for the same thing? 

The truth is that while organic food can be more expensive, there’s actually a good reason why it has its own fancy label. They are not produced with GMOs, artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. What do all these confusing words mean? Essentially, organic food tends to be safer, healthier, and of higher quality than the alternative. 

Thinking about going organic but want to know more first? You’ve come to the right place! Here are a few things to note when making the transition to an organic eating style that might help you. 

Junk food is still junk food (even if it’s organic). 

You might be thinking, “Great! As long as things are labeled ‘organic,’ I can pretty much eat whatever I want and still be healthy!” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that (even if we all wish it did). The sad truth is that even when traditional junk foods are made with organic ingredients, they can still have all the calories, sugar, trans fats, and so on that you may be trying to avoid.  

“Now that you see more and more junk food products with organic labels, it can create a health halo, which may mislead consumers,” Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University, said. “Being organic itself will not offset the detrimental effects of many ultra-processed foods, which are typically loaded with added sugars, sodium, and refined starch.” It’s still important to get your fruits, veggies, and protein in even when eating organic.   

Read labels closely. 

USDA’s National Organic Program oversees organic labeling based on requirements. In order for something to be labeled “organic,” it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. For something to be labeled “made with organic ingredients,” it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.  

It’s also important to be aware of vague words like “natural.” These are marketing tactics used to trick consumers into thinking a product uses good, quality ingredients. When in doubt, look for the USDA organic seal to ensure you’re getting the organic ingredients you’re looking for.  

Go organic on a budget. 

Two red and one green tomato grows on a vine.

Organic food prices can add up quickly, especially if you’re feeding more than one person. Try a few of these hacks to make your next trip to the grocery store a little bit cheaper (and a whole lot healthier!). 

  • Shop in season! Whether they’re organic or not, fruits and vegetables can nearly double in price when they’re out of season. Things like strawberries are likely going to be a lot cheaper in the summer months, compared to grapefruit that would be cheaper in the winter. This website is a great resource for finding out which foods are in season throughout the year. 
  • Buy frozen! Organic frozen foods tend to be cheaper than you might find in other sections of the grocery store, so take advantage of it. You would be surprised at the quality organic items you’ll find down the freezer aisles. You might be surprised to know that because frozen fruits and veggies are usually flash frozen at their peak ripeness, they’re more likely to be consistently nutrient dense as opposed to the fresh versions that may not be in season.   
  • Grow your own! There is something about growing your own produce that just makes it taste better. The types of things you can grow will differ depending on where you live. This website serves as a great guide for when to plant certain things. 

Organic Food is worth the switch!

It’s a tough adjustment making the switch to organic foods, but the long-term health benefits make it all worth it. Keep our tips in mind to make the transition a little smoother for you and your family! 

Ready for more health tips? Check out this blog post that talks all about meal planning … and yes, it’s for you!