In recent years, the organic food trend has grown rapidly in the United States as well as globally. This $29 billion industry is composed of over 24,000 organic food farms in the United States alone. Organic foods are expected to be produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, genetically modified ingredients, and from animals that aren’t taking antibiotics or growth hormones. Consequently, more people are shopping at organic markets such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. The word “organic” is thrown around on many items today, and when it comes to their food many people have started buying organic foods over conventional foods. This type of diet has become favored by a vast group of people looking to improve quality of eating. In spite of this, studies from Annals of Internal Medicine have proven that those who are eating organic foods are no more healthy than those who aren’t. Nevertheless, people are continuing to buy into this lifestyle in the hopes that it will someway improve health. But what if some organic products you are purchasing aren’t really organic?
For instance, a study conducted in California revealed that numerous dangerous pesticides are used to grow strawberries. Because of the discouraging results of the study, people began to switch to organic fruit. Whether the strawberries are grown on a conventional or organic farm, the soil in these farms can still be pumped with chemicals to limit pests. This means that certain foods are not truly organic. Furthermore, the federal code for organic foods has allowed farms a loophole for distributing truly organic ítems. Farms are able to begin growing “organic” strawberries in fumigated soil if there is no organic soil available. And in certain places, there may not be a single organic strawberry nursery, but there are still organic strawberries sold.
To make matters worse, the USDA has faced problems for labeling certain products organic when it may not follow the USDA organic certification. This incident occurred in 2010, which will confuse and upset organic food consumers.
Many of those who are buying these organic items, will be disappointed to know that these items may not actually be organic. Organic fruit ítems have been known cost at least 50 cents to a dollar more than conventional products. And for organic meats and dairy, the difference between conventional and organic ones can range from 2-4 dollars. Over a course of a year, not buying organic products would be saving a family a lot of money.
In order to avoid casting money on organic foods make sure that you are really buying organic products. One thing you can do is look at the Price Look Up (PLU) sticker. An organic product will have a code with five-digits beginning with the number 9. While convention products will have a 4 digit code. And something else to be aware of is that a five-digit PLU beginning with the number 8 means the item is genetically modified, which some research indicates may pose health risks. So, the next time you buy something that says it’s organic, ask yourself, “Is this food really organic?”