Monday, May 16, 2011

Why "Organic" Doesn't Mean "Clean"

     Switching to foods that are organically grown and handled is a cornerstone for Clean Eating. Why? Removing pesticides, unnecessary additives and preservatives, and eating foods "manufactured" in a sustainable way is important. You want your food handled as minimally as possible.  

      In order to qualify as organic farmers, the producers must  use renewable resources and endeavor to conserve soil and water to enhance the environmental quality for future generations.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones during their lives.  Organic food is produced without using harmful, conventional pesticides; fertilizers containing synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.  Before a product can be labeled organic, a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to ensure that the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.  Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to the local supermarket or restaurant must also be certified by the government.

Here is the USDA's definition of organic labels: 

  • 100% Organic- means that every ingredient in the product was raised and harvested in an organic environment as approved and certified by the USDA.
  • Organic- means that 70 to 95 percent of all the ingredients have been raised in a USDA approved manner
  • Any product containing ingredients with less than a 70 percent organic content can separately list each ingredient that falls into the USDA organic category, but the product may not display a label claiming the product as organic.

 So organic is important to a Clean Eater - we strive to eat food "as unmessed around with" as I like to put it as possible. But are all organic foods Clean? The answer is a resounding no. Just because a breakfast cereal is labeled as organic does not make it a Clean food. There can be lots of organically produced sugars in it, organically produced starches and fillers. Look at the product label, if it has more ingredients than you feel comfortable consuming you know the product is not Clean. Salt is Clean. It contains only one ingredient. Used in careful moderation, salt is important to your diet. However, turning an organic spaghetti sauce jar over and discovering it has double the amount of sodium as in a "regular" spaghetti sauce is a real eye opener.

     Again, the advice on this is the same. When choosing organic processed products in the store, turn the package over and investigate the ingredients. Added sugars? Salts? Strange fillers? Ingredient list a mile long? That product is not for you. Make sure your organic choices dovetail with your Clean Eating goals. Clean Eating is different for everyone - and what I find tolerable, you may not. Do not assume that a product labeled "Organic" or bearing an organic banner is automatically a Clean food item.