Organic products are available almost everywhere—including natural food stores, organic groceries, farmer's markets, supermarkets and even big discount stores. If you think it's more expensive to shop at an organic grocery store, you might want to take a closer look.
Organic or Natural?
The first consideration is whether the food that you are buying is, in fact,100 percent organic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a big difference between organic and natural. In order for a food product to be labeled '100 percent organic,' it must be completely organic or made from all organic ingredients. It can be labeled 'organic' if it is at least 95 percent organic. The US Department of Agriculture defines how foods must be grown, handled and processed in order to be considered organic.
The USDA requires that any product that is labeled 'organic' must meet its standards. Many organic producers use the USDA certified organic seal to indicate that their products are produced and processed according to the USDA's regulations for organic products, but they are not required to display the seal.
Some food products contain labels that indicate they are 'hormone-free,' 'free-range' or 'all-natural.' These terms are not equivalent to being 'organic,' and are not subject to the standards set by the USDA. While foods labeled with these terms may be healthier and less processed than many other widely available products, they are not organic.
Organic farmers produce fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains and meat in ways that conserve water and soil and reduce pollution. Plants are fertilized naturally and crops are rotated in order to sustain the soil. Pesticides are not used, and there are no additives in organic foods.
Buying Only Organic
If you are committed to following an organic lifestyle for the benefits it provides your family, an organic grocery will often have a better selection of organic products than a supermarket or discount store. These stores sell other products as well, and may just have a token selection of organic products.
An organic grocery, like Southtown Health Foods, will have in-season produce and other products that will be more price-competitive with non-organic products. During the summer and fall months, farmer's markets are a good source for organic produce, but be sure to ask how the products are grown. Producers who sell less than $5,000 per year of organic foods are not required to be certified by the USDA.
Organic farming practices are more expensive, and that cost is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. However, as organics become more widely accepted and are available in more places, the price will necessarily come down. By carefully selecting in-season produce and comparing prices, your family can enjoy the benefits of buying organic foods at an organic grocery without spending a lot more money.