Eating and shopping healthier should be simple, right? If only it were so. With the dizzying array of health claims found down every grocery aisle, you might think you need a PhD to sort out what’s genuinely good for you. Yet there’s at least one label that truly means what it says: USDA Certified Organic.
By definition, “organic” foods are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically engineered ingredients. In other words, they’re grown the old fashioned way – sunlight, water and natural fertilizer. That’s it. When you see “organic” on the label, as on all Cascadian Farm® and Muir Glen® products, you know they meets strict standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What’s more, organic growers must be certified by USDA-approved agencies, so you know they play by the rules.
But what about “natural”? Does it mean the same thing as “organic”? Not according to the USDA. Only food labeled “organic” meets national organic standards. While foods claiming to be “natural,” “free-range,” and “hormone-free” are plentiful, they are not necessarily “organic” (unless they say so).
Not All Organics the Same
How much of a given product is organic is another matter. To find out, look at the label. 100% Organic means all of a product's content is certified organic. Organic means at least 95% of it is (the other 5% can be minerals, vitamins and other minor ingredients). Made with Organic Ingredients means at least 70% of the product’s content is certified organic. Less than 70% organic content, and a product may only flag individual ingredients as organic on its label.
Now that we know what foods make the “organic” cut, a question remains: are they any better for you?
Think of it like this: it isn’t just about what you consume, but what you don’t. By eating and cooking with organic foods, you limit your exposure to synthetic insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals that can’t be used on organic crops. Fewer mysterious ingredients means fewer things to worry about.
By keeping synthetic chemicals out of our air and water, organic growing practices helps reduce our impact on the environment. Soil stays healthier and erodes less, too, so it’s good to grow another day. Farmers see other benefits as well, like greater diversity of wildlife around their farms, not to mention avoiding handling synthetic pesticides.
Our Top 8 Favorite Organic Foods
Of course, no one would bother with organic food if it wasn’t also delicious. So whether you’re all about your health, the environment, or just what tastes good, being Organic Aware can help you shop (and eat) a little smarter. Look for our favorite organic products at your local grocery store.
1. Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
We’ve finally found the perfect pasta sauce! Organic zucchini, onion, green pepper and spinach enveloped in a rich tomato sauce and dressed up with extra virgin olive oil and organic spices. Who needs a side salad?
2. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar
Chewy kid-sized organic granola bars with yummy peanut butter chips, chocolate chips and rolled oats. Or as we refer to them, the bar no handbag should be without.
3. Chicken Tortilla Soup
This zesty favorite features succulent organic chicken draped in a variety of premium organic vegetables, spices, and black beans. We’re always game for quick and easy lunches sans the guilt.
4. Sliced Peaches
Sweet in smoothies and cobblers, tangy in sauces and marmalades, these freestone sliced peaches are bursting with the rich flavors of summer. Even in the dead of winter. Thumbs up for that!
5. Medium Garlic Cilantro Salsa
The distinctive flavors of organic garlic and cilantro spice otherwise boring recipes and add zing to simple snacks. Bring on the chips and veggie sticks!
6. Organic Lemonade
Ah, the taste of summer! This tart-sweet refresher features organic lemon pulp and juice concentrate sweetened with organic white grape juice.
7. Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Succulent, flavorful, vine-ripened and always organic. We like that these whole peeled tomatoes are seasoned with a dash of sea salt.
8. Strawberry Fruit Spread
Pure, wholesome and delicious, this organic strawberry spread will quickly become a staple in your pantry and the only way you’ll want to eat your morning toast. Trust us on that.