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Have you ever chosen organic milk over regular milk thinking that the former is the healthier choice? How about organic cookies? Bananas?
Of course, you have. We all have. But what are we really buying into? Is a product healthier just because it has a label that says "organic"? Is it worth the higher price tag?
By definition, organic means that there has been an approved method of farming and production of a food or food product. Companies that label their products as organic cannot use synthetic additives or preservatives in production, nor can they use antibiotics or hormones. The USDA approves these methods; and if 95 percent or more of the product is organically made, then it is worthy of the USDA Certified Organic Seal.
The truth is that we don't really know if organic food is healthier than conventional, non-organic food. There have been inconsistent results in the research comparing the nutrient density of organic foods with that of conventional foods. No conclusive long-term studies have been conducted on the link between traditional food intake and negative health effects such as increased cancer risk.
The one thing that we do know is that organic food is perceived as healthier. If you ask anyone which is healthier, organic or conventional, they will say organic. It does sound like a healthier word. Or, perhaps, we have fallen for clever marketing.
I do know that just because a product says organic doesn’t mean it’s always a healthy choice. Take organic chocolate chip cookies, for example. They are just as high, if not higher, in saturated fat, added sugar and calories than conventional cookies are. They cost at least twice as much when you buy organic, and the box contains fewer cookies! Are cookies really considered healthy in the first place?
Whether or not organic is the healthier way to go is still up for debates, but one thing’s for sure: whole foods are healthier than processed foods. The good news is that the purchase of whole foods compared to that of packaged foods is on the rise. This means that people are buying into the basic principle that eating whole foods as much as possible while limiting processed foods is the path to overall good nutrition and overall superior health!