Organic Food - What it is and What it isn't
There is much confusion regarding the term "Organic".
Is this just a term to charge more for products, or does it have any actual significance? When we discuss organic, we are discussing that little label stamped on products in the supermarket from the USDA , or US Department of Agriculture.
Some of you may not want to trust this labeling, but it is meant to be a standardization of better practices and higher quality than conventional practices, so for the purposes of this blog, this is what we will be discussing.
According to usda.gov ,
The USDA organic regulation describes organic agriculture as "the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. These include maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality, conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering."
Conventional Agriculture Spraying
Growing crops to be labeled organic does not exclude them from all synthetic or natural sprays and materials. Some are allowable through the USDA guidelines. For a comprehensive list, look at ecrf.gov .
"Organic" is a metric of practices and quality and is not making claims as to the health benefits of the products. While it has become chic and popular in high-end grocery stores, it is only another way for customers to have transparency in the food they are buying and consuming.
Just as with conventional food, organic food should still be washed prior to consumption as it is considered raw and can contain critters, dirt and natural allowable spray residue.
Store-bought veggie washes are not always highly-effective and while commercial sanitation has improved, many people handle your produce before it makes it into your home. Yikes!
....And washing those veggies under the sink is not effective.
Making your own veggie wash can loosen dirt, remove pesticides and films, and remove bacteria from other shoppers and stockers' hands.
-bowl or colander
-distilled white vinegar (1:4 ratio)
-lemon juice (tbl spoon)
1.) Store in the fridge until use (You can also wash immediately & store in fridge between paper towels in an air-sealed container.) You can also freeze them in a plastic bag until use, but they will have a slightly different texture later on.
2.) Rinse in a bowl with the vinegar and lemon juice.
3.) Stir and loosen dirt and bugs
4.) Rinse with cool water and pat dry with towel.
1.) Only prep when ready for use (to prevent mold and sogginess).
2.) Place berries in a colander
3.) Spray with premixed wash
4.) Rinse with cold water
Apples, Carrots, Beets, Etc.
Don't peel most of these, as the skin is full of nutrient-rich fiber and vitamins.
1.) Spray with pre-mixed wash and let sit for a few minutes.
2.) Scrub with a produce-only dedicated kitchen bristle brush. Remove majority of yard debris, but there will still be some ground in dirt. (It won't hurt you!!!)
3.) Rinse thoroughly
All crops are not created equal. Some absorb more treatments and residues than others. If price is a factor, you may consider getting these "dirty" produce items as organics and sourcing the "clean" ones conventionally as they will be easier to wash and remove harmful sprays.
12.) Sweet Bell Peppers
Why are these Bad?
High levels of pesticide residue, so should be sourced organically, if possible. Strawberries, can contain 22 different types of residues on just one strawberry. Spinich can contain neurotoxins and most sampled spinich contaid pesticides.
2.) Sweet corn
6.) Sweet Peas
Some organic Q & A.....
Question: A good question to ask is who are the people setting these rules? high-powered lobbyists? Corporate doners? Politicians?
Answer: The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a U.S Dept. of Agriculture Board comprised of public volunteers from the organic community.
Question: How is livestock regulated?
Answer: All certified farms are required to provide living conditions for livestock that accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including year-round access to the outdoors,shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh-air, clean water, and sunlight.
Question: Is there financial incentive to go organic?
Answer: In addition to building trust with your consumers, several USDA agencies and external non-profit organizations provide technical assistance, educational resources, and financial assistance to support organic producers.
****There is a complaint process if you suspect a violation of using the organic label and not being in compliance.****
- michael rutledge