What are Organic Foods? – Consumer Safety Basics

What are organic foods? In short they can be anything as long they are made from organic ingredients and organic farming – from produce, meat, chocolate, soups, etc. Organic farms tend to be humane in animal farming, providing meat that is free from hormones and antibiotics. Organic foods are not chemical free. They are usually locally sourced, so you can track their origin easier. There are no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or better for you than conventional foods.

 

Organic Farming and Use of Chemicals


When you think of organic, what you have in mind is rich, fresh, nutritious and satisfying produce that has been growing in dark soil under the beautiful sun. This is true to some extend. But there are always two sides of the same coin.

 

Organic foods are not chemical free and they are not necessarily safer.

 

If you thought organic farming does not use any chemicals at all visit USDA website. There are couple of 100 approved chemicals they can use. A good, terrible example is glyphacad.

 

organic foods are cleaner, less polluted than conventional
Organic farming uses less synthetic chemicals but is not chemicals free.

 

 

The story goes, “because of one study, which said: “It may cause cancer in workers who spray it.”, glyphacad is one of the most studied herbicides on the world today and there are over 400 studies of it.
When an organisation does a risk assessment of a chemical, what they look for is: can the chemical really harm you?
In case of glyphacad, every leading consumer concerned organisation such as EPA, European food safety authority, Health Canada, etc., has said that level of gyphacad consumed in food is so small, so trace that it has absolutely no affect on human body. The International Association for Research on Cancer, also concluded that pesticide residue in food have no impact on you.
No other agency than that single one has found that glyphacad can cause cancer.
Why? Dose makes the poison. 
Which means, the higher the level of chemical the more harmful it is.
To clear things out, if you look at the data for exposure of that one study, you’d have to literally take showers of glyphacad for a worker to be harmed by it. Dose makes the poison.
Organic food is not chemicals free.
Use of chemicals is regulated to pose no harm to human or environment.
Taking things further, because of glyphacad uproar and bad poblication, organic people were concerned about the reputation of organic farming, so they started to use an organic chemical that was so toxic they had to wear hazmat suits while applying their organic chemical to organic produce. Glyphacad does not require any protection at all at levels that its used.
So that’s the kind of bizzare reaction that we have when we have a fear of chemicals.
“…so they started to use an organic chemical that was so toxic they had to wear hazmat suits
while applying their organic chemical to organic produce.”

 

Another example is fungicide, used by organic farmers, copper sulphate. Google it. Look it up on Wikipedia or any chemical dictionary: “copper sulphate is one of the most carcinogenic compounds you can possibly use. Europe has recommended banning it because it is so harmful. But they don’t  ban it because it is single, most used chemical by the organic industry.

 

Speaking of harmful it is probably 1000 -times more harmful than glyphacad, yet its used by organic farmers and gets a free pass because it is an organic, a natural chemical.

 

“Natural does not mean safer.”

 

 

Synthetic chemicals have been designed to be targeted and in some cases much more stream line and safer than natural chemicals.” Jon Entine, geneticliteracyproject.org .

 

Labelling – How to Know if Something is Organic?


Studies show that 50% of organic food is a false claim. The idea that you’re getting safer food by buying organics is misleading. 

Next time you shop organics look for “Certified Organic” labels and seals. To certify a farm as an organic farm and consequently sell the produce as organic, the farmer has to go through a years long process.  After at least 3 years of complying with Organic farming principles the farm can call itself organic.

 

In the US there is only one highly regulated and trustworthy Organic Foods – USDA Organic.

In EU it is EU Organic farming.

In Australia there are 7 different certifications, covering different areas of farming and food production. The most common one is ACO.

always look for certified organic labels and seals
Three main “certified organic” seals to look for when shopping organic.

 

Depending on the country you are from there are many others, specific labels. However, these are the most trusted and regulated ones.

By sticking to these labels, you are less likely to get scammed by false advertising and marketing of organic products. You can find a list of USDA registered farm on USDA website.

 

Oh God, What do I do?!


We’re in a period of a huge scepticism. We’re suspicious of any new chemical, product and claim.
What you should know is our food supply is safe.
“Just because laboratories can detect something, does not mean harm.”
Advanced analytical systems can detect concentrations as low as part per billion (ppb). In other words, they can spot a drop in a swimming pool.
Another fact is, levels for chemical use have been set to a 1000-times lower than what we can be affected by. When they find a level that might harm us, then they multiply it by 1000.
If you are really worried about what’s in your body you can definitely go and check it. I simple Urine test will do the trick. However, don’t be surprised by the results.
There are a lot of chemicals in our body. In fact, our body is made of chemicals, and this does not present any potential problems. There is a reason we have liver and kidney. It is to purify things and protect us against chemicals. 

 

what-are-oganic-foods
Organic poultry farm (left) compared to conventional (right). Organic do tend to be more humane.

Rest assure


We’re all concerned about the food we eat. There’s an obesity epidemic in the US and many Western diet related diseases. We have a history of misuse of chemicals and it’s natural for mums and dads to think what’s in our food and perhaps be concerned whether we have to many chemicals in our food.
We don’t really need to be that concerned.
Anything that you’re going to buy at the food store is going to be safe.
What you don’t want to do is eat things like sugar, alcohol. Alcohol is actually very dangerous and the idea that we’re making all this drama over trace chemical but we drink alcohol is irrational.
Rest assure, our food supply is safe.
“Conventional food in safe. Organic food is safe.”

 

 

Till next time,

Katya

15 thoughts on “What are Organic Foods? – Consumer Safety Basics”

  1. This is a great article on a great topic. That’s absolutely right that even thought there are organic products they are not totally safe. People think that if it is organic it is teally safe. This article explains everything about it really good. I learned a lot from this article. Thank you so much for this article.

    Reply
    • Hi Sujandar, I’m glad to hear that! We should know that all our food supply is safe and unfortunately both, organic and conventional farmer uses chemicals to have better yield. In most cases it comes down to the farmer himself, how conscious he is and what practices he uses. There are many small farm, that are not organic but still very aware of their work. The real problem in our eating habits is sugar – which if found in processed food that we eat on daily basis not even knowing.

      No matter where you get your veggies from they are much better for you than processed, sugary foods.

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  2. As the new year approaches one of my goals is to eat healthy so i’ve been focused on researching organic food.  I’m so glad i found this post as I was wondering about food safety.

    I really appreciate the guidelines you have provided and this also gives me confidence that i will be eating safe organic food.

    Thanks Katya!

    Reply
    • You are very welcome! And thank you, Barry, for such kind words. This is exactly what this website is for, to provide you with info you might not find elsewhere and help you make decisions.

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  3. Hey Katya,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article on “What are Organic Foods” as you’ve provided us with lots of useful information. In the grocery, there is a separate section that says “Organic Eggs”. Are these natural ones or are they trying to fool us by snatching money from us? 

    From my perspective, I tend to think that you could predict whether a food is organic or not by the labels like you’ve mentioned in this post. 

    Thanks in advance for answering my question. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Hi AV 2001, thank you and you are very welcome! Good quality eggs have deep yellow, sometimes even orange yolk. When you crack it the yolk should have a pretty firm, elastic convex shape – it shouldn’t just lay flat. 

      Firstly, there is a difference between organic and natural eggs. 

      Organic eggs should come from hens that are cage-free (fenced concrete patch is enough for USDA standards) and are fed with organic feed only. Which means free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemical additives and GMOs. 

      Natural eggs, also called vegetarian eggs are antibiotic-free, but apart from that nobody really knows what the hens are fed or how they live because there are no regulations for “natural” eggs.

      Now to answer your question: Unfortunately, you cannot know whether the eggs are organic or not if there is no organic label or seal stating so. Your best bet is to buy the ones that say are organic and have the furthest to expiry date.

      Hope this help,

      Katya

      Reply
  4. Thank you so much for providing such useful information about organic farming. I always have doubts about all the products that claim to be organic. But those 3 certifications that you show indeed open up my eyes to verify the truth. Seriously, I’ve never seen this type of certifications in the so called organic products sold in my country. Will definitely check the produces packaging before doing my purchase decision. Thanks and you are awesome!

    Reply
    • Thank you Florence! You made my day!

      We are suspicious of everything, and it is OK to be to some extent but at the end of the day, we need to eat and to know that chemicals used in farming do not pose as a threat takes a huge burden of our backs.

      Keep your eyes open and your mind sharp when shopping!

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  5. Hi Katya, wow, such an eye-opening article – thanks for sharing the post!

    Ever since I started yoga, I’ve been on a hunt to consume better food and try to be more aware on the origins of the food that I’m consuming. One of the things that I usually look for is that they are organic – because I assume they are more environmental friendly and more nutritious. I honestly didn’t realize that organic farming also uses chemicals.. 

    I guess you’re right about the quantity of the chemicals that we human are exposed to, and that’s what makes it harmful to us or not.

    Super useful to know as well on the word “Certified” – I’ll check this the next time I go grocery shopping!

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Wina, organic gets us all. It’s just one of those catchy words that we buy into, like green and natural and biological and sustainable. Some of it it’s true and genuine, some of it is smart marketing. 

      To make your search for consumer aware food a little easier, try to find a local farmer you can trust and build a relationship with. This way you will really know where your food is coming from and how it’s been grown.

      All the best,

      Katya

      Reply
  6. Well I learned a lot from that, I never really get organic products but I was always under the impression that organic products were free of pesticides but really thinking about it that wouldn’t make sense because there would be no way of getting rid of the pest. I remember reading a while back of some organic  health supplements thaf had alarming levels of heavy metal contaminaton too.

    Reply
    • Hi Huy, you are correct, it’s really hard to have clean, non-contaminated patch of land. You could do everything right and respect all organic farming practices but if your soil is contaminated from previous generations, there’s nothing you can do about it.

      Reply
  7. Wow, I had no idea that organic food still had chemicals sprayed on it. When I think of anything organic, I automatically think that it is safer and more healthier to digest. I was completely wrong. It is good to know that the chemicals aren’t harmful to us. I was very misinformed. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hi Jasmine, yes, chemicals are widely used everywhere in our environment, food is no exception. When we think of chemicals, we think of poisonous man-made liquid and in many cases this is not true. 99% of chemicals are natural origin. Water is a chemical, wood, blood, stone, etc. What matters is the dose – water can be lethal if you drink to much of it, so can be coffee, or apples. 

      Our food supply is highly regulated and tested and the chemicals used are always applied in such low concentration it has no affect on our health, organic or not. 

      Reply
  8. This is interesting. I never really questioned much about organic food and always thought it was healthier. Now i am learning organic growers use pesticides hmmm interesting. 

    Now you made me thinking… If bothn cconventional or organic food are safe, does that mean people are wasting their $ on organic food that is no different than convectional farmed food?

    Organic farming is only impacting the environment and the health of workers.

    Thank you for this great information.

    Reply

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