I cannot tell you how many clients ask me, “Adrianna, when should I buy organic?”, “What is Natural?”, “Is local better than organic, or is it the same thing?”
Here’s the scoop:
You don’t need to buy Certified Organic, just organically grown. Many small farms use organic practices when growing their produce but cannot afford the permits or simply have chosen not to become certified organic because of the added red tape. Visit your local farmers market and ask the farmers what (if any) pesticides or herbicides they use. Don’t be shy, they love talking shop with customers!
As a general rule, it’s important to buy organic fruit and veg when you plan on eating the skin. Do buy organic apples, celery, grapes, lettuce, peaches, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes.
Some “clean” fruits and veg you don’t need to buy organic include asparagus, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, onions, watermelon or mangoes. It’s a safe bet to buy non-organic when a hearty skin is involved. You can visit Organic.org for a full list of the “Dirty” and “Clean” fruits and vegetables, include a free downloadable handy pocket guide!
Deciphering Labels at the store:
100% Organic: Contains 100% organic ingredients
Organic: at least 95% of ingedients are organic
Made with organic Ingredients: at least 70% organic ingredients
Some organic ingredients: less than 70% organic ingredients that must be listed separately.
The USDA also makes it clear that “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. Other truthful claims such as “free range”, “hormone free”, and “natural” can still appear on food labels but do not necessarily qualify as organic.
Adrianna Holiat is a Certified Health Coach and professionally trained Natural Foods Chef. She is founder of Greenwich Village Green, a private health coaching practice and Baked By Bub, a natural foods line featuring organic, naturally sweetened, good-for-you baked goods.