Part of being an informed and conscious consumer is being aware of the foods you buy and their health benefits and drawbacks especially if you’re looking at adopting the Paleo way of eating. Buzz words float around the world of healthy eating so frequently that it’s hard to keep track of what’s what and why- and “organic” is certainly no exception. Walk into your typical, everyday grocery store and chances are you’ll stumble upon a few aisles labeled “health food aisle” or “organic aisle.” Sounds pretty good, right? The shelves are stocked with items labeled “natural,” “raw,” “sprouted,” and “organic.” The prices are a bit high but hey, that’s the price you pay for health, right?
It’s important to understand what these labels mean and if they really even mean much, at all. The term organic refers to the way in which agricultural products are grown, raised, handled, and processed. Using natural fertilizers over chemical ones, and natural insecticides over synthetic ones are both ways in which food can be grown and processed to be considered organic. Meat that is considered organic comes from animals that were given organic feed and no antibiotics, growth hormones, or medications.
Variations of “Organic” Labeling
• 100% Organic- completely organic or made of all organic ingredients
• Organic- at least 95% of organic ingredients
• Made with Organic Ingredients- 70% or higher organic ingredients
It’s important to consider the value of buying a particular item in an organic variety. Just because organic costs more doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth it.
Organic.org has a list of foods they call the “dirty dozen,” which contain those that have the highest level of pesticides and therefore are best bought organic. There is also a list of a dozen foods that you can buy non-organic (“least contaminated”). This guide is a great reference for your trips to the grocery store.
Adding Organic Foods Into A Paleo Diet
Now that you understand what the term organic means, what are some reasons you should start adding organic foods into your grocery purchases if following a Paleo Diet?
• More Nutritious- Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids
• Safer- No pesticides, usually no GMO’s
• Pure- No flavor enhancers, preservatives, contaminants
While many argue that the price of organic food makes it impossible to afford, there are ways you can make it fit your budget.
• Shop at local farmers markets
• Join an organic co-op
• Buy directly from farmers
• Buy in bulk
• Grow your own
• Shop online
Those who are fans of organic foods believe it’s healthier and safer to consume than non-organic foods when following the Paleo Diet. On the other hand, some argue that there is no way to ensure that what you’re buying is truly organic, the major factor being the consumption of these foods over-processed.