Organic, Natural, Raw or Real Food?

At one time, organic products can be found only in health food stores. But now, “organic” is today a regular feature at many different products, used broadly on shampoo, makeup, mattresses, and even dry cleaning. Is it even necessary to have everything and anything in organic? Do you even understand what is organic? Are the values it provided really worth the cost? From my perspective, if your shampoo says “organic” on the label, it probably doesn’t mean anything.

Legally, products that need to be certified organic, must be grown and manufactured in a manner that adheres to standards set by the countries they are sold in. However, many of the false labelling is more marketing than substance. The labels like “natural” and “organic” on the food products do not mean that the food is healthier or better. Even though “Natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain artificial ingredients, is it the truth? If you thought the word “organic” means the product is free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers or dyes, and do not contain any hormones or antibiotics, then you need to rethink about labelling

What You Need to Know

You might be confused about what you should believe right now. Do ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ mean the same thing? Is there really an absent of antibiotics, artificial colours, GMOs, and synthetic pesticides in “natural” labelled foods?

Nope, “natural” and “organic” are not exchangeable terms.

You might see “natural” and other terms like “all natural,” “freerange” or “hormone-free” on food labels. These descriptions have to be truthful, but don’t mix them up with the term “organic.” The truth is, there is no standard definition or guideline to label a food or any products as “natural”. Natural produce does not need a label as “natural”. If the products you purchased are not in its original form, is it even consider “natural”? What you see is what you eat, choose wisely and do not be deceived by the false labelling.

Regarding organic labelling, any product marked as “organic” must be certified by any Department of Agriculture of a country. Only foods that are raised and processed according to Department of Agriculture organic criteria may be labelled organic. If a food holds a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the criteria. If not, the organic products that you used to think that it is “organic”, might not be organic. Products that are totally organic — like fruits, veggies, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are marked 100 percent organic and may carry the Department of Agriculture seal as showed below:

USDA has established an organic certificate program that requires all organic foods to fit strict government standards. These measures regulate how such foods are raised, handled and processed before a label is provided. We can always rely on the “100% organic certified” label if there is a difficulty for you to find out more about the organic produce.

 

Foods that have more than one component, like breakfast cereal, may utilize the Department of Agriculture organic seal plus the following wording, contingent on the number of organic ingredients:

• 100 Percent Organic. To utilize this phrase, products must be either totally organic or made of all organic components.

• Organic. Products have to be at least 95 percent organic to utilize this term.

• Made with Organic Ingredients. Products that bear at least 70 percent organic ingredients, but might not utilize the seal.

• Foods bearing less than 70 percent organic components can’t utilize the seal or the word “organic” on their product labels. They may include the organic items in their ingredient list.

Now, let us discuss on the necessity of eating “organic”. On one hand, you’ve a conventionally grown apple. On the other, you’ve one that’s organic. Both apples are crisp, shiny and red. Both supply vitamins and fibre, and both are fat free, and have no sodium and cholesterol. Which should you select?

Conventionally grown produce commonly costs less, but, does this literally means that organic food is safer or more nutritious? It is true that conventional growers utilize pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. However, both organic or non-organic farmers do spray pesticides, just in different form. Both produce may have pesticide residue leave on produce, which don’t surpass government safety thresholds.

Some individuals purchase organic food to restrict their exposure to these residues. But, is organic produce really bears significantly fewer pesticide residues than conventional produce? Find the facts before you shop. The word “organic” denotes the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, like fruits, veggies, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming is a method of crop and livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones, but not every farmer follows.

In fact, under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops. Some farmers do use organic derived pesticides and fertilizers in their farming process, which a recently released report on pesticide residues found that about 20 percent of organic lettuce tested positive for pesticides. Whether “natural” or “synthetic,” these pesticide residues have unintended side effects on human health.

However, there are farmers who raise organic produce and meat that don’t utilize conventional techniques to fertilize, contain weeds or prevent livestock disease. For instance, instead of utilizing chemical weed killers, organic farmers might conduct more advanced crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds cornered. Thus, it is important to ask, to know, and to understand the source of your organic produce. In order to do so, I always encourage my friends and families to buy locally and to deal with the farmers directly.

After the long discussion about natural and organic labelling, we have to consider whether they are really important in healthy eating? There are no differences between conventionally grown produce and organic produce, in term of nutrients, pesticide residues, and other goodness in the products. So, does it really matter to go for “organic” choices? I personally think that it will only add financial burden to you, without improving your health.

The most important keyword here is “real” food. We need to eat a variety of nutritionally dense foods to keep up our good health, but not by supplements. Supplements cannot substitute for a healthy diet, which supplies countless other potentially beneficial compounds besides vitamins and minerals. By eating a wide assortment of foods, it helps to lower any pesticides or toxic substances that maybe present in a particular type of food, and increase our body immune system to fight against bacteria and virus. The nutrients, fiber and other compounds in the real foods may help protect us against cell ageing, radical attacks and other potential diseases.

On top of that, we should take note on the way we prepare our food. Heating food destroys most of the nutrients and natural enzymes in our food, which is bad that most of us didn’t realize this. Do you know that frying, boiling, and steaming all required us to heat the food to a minimum heating temperature of 100°C? Most of the nutrients and enzyme would have loss before we put the food on the plate. Enzymes boost digestion and fight chronic disease for us, so do think of eating uncooked and unprocessed of “raw” foods before you throw your food over fire. However, we have to keep moderation and balance in mind as some nutrients only became bio-available after cooked. Meat do not come under this category as raw diet plan often restricted to plant-based food only.

In this chapter, we have discussed about natural and organic labelling, real food, and raw diet plan. I would strongly advise everyone to eat a variety of food choices, regardless it is organic or not. The food we eat everyday should be minimally processed, mildly cooked and freshly purchased. In short, we should eat more real and raw food to ensure successful healthy eating habits.

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