Monday, March 12, 2012

Organic Food Myths Explained

What does organic mean to you? Does it symbolize a healthier food product, sustainability or safety? Maybe it is something you stay away from because you think it costs too much. Organic food is often portrayed by the media and some health professionals as the better choice over conventional food, but all of the claims you hear may not be true.
Myth #1: Organic means healthier and safer.
Many people think organic implies that the product has more nutrients than a conventionally grown product. There is currently no evidence to support these claims. 
Consider baked goods or snacks that are labeled organic. They are still likely to contain high amounts of sugar, salt, fat and calories. Organic does not imply a healthier product.
Myth #2: Organic is the same as local.
The organic label describes how the product is raised or grown. This means there are no pesticides used to control plant growth, bugs, or weeds. Also, animals are not given antibiotics, hormones or any other medications. Products are certified organic by the USDA. Look for the seal below when purchasing organic products. This indicates that the product you are consuming contains at least 95% organic ingredients.
Local indicates the product you are consuming was grown nearby. There is no set distance that makes a product locally grown; it may be grown within 50 miles, or it may be grown within 100 miles. There is a growing trend to purchase locally grown foods to help promote sustainability. Sustainability meets our present needs without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations. Sometimes local products are grown organically, but organic does not imply local and local does not imply organic.
Myth #3: Organic is the same as natural.
Unlike organic, which can apply to produce, grains, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy; natural is a term used only for the processing of meat and egg products. Natural implies that the product has been “minimally processed” and contains no artificial ingredients.

- Korie Lown is a graduate of Iowa State University and is a dietetic intern at Virginia Tech and will graduate in May 2012, after completion of the RD Exam in June she plans to earn a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology or Nutritional Science, and would like to pursue a career in sports nutrition or wellness nutrition