Recently I attended Shiftcon – a blogging conference that focuses on green living. I had the opportunity to meet amazing people but the best part is that I got to learn a lot. When it comes to organic food there is always new knowledge coming out and there’s always new information to learn.
During this conference I attended several workshops held by the Organic Trade Association and by The Organic Center. Today I’m going to share with you 3 interesting facts I learned about organics during these workshops.
Organic farms are less than 1% of our farmlands
I’ve been buying organic food for so long that to me it seems organic is part of everyone’s lives but the reality is that it is not. Conventional farms still are predominant and make up about 99% of all farms in our country.
When I heard this fact I was pretty shocked that you see so many debates between organic and conventional and certain groups pushing really hard for conventional foods. You would think organics are taking over the entire marker but the reality is that they are not. Organics are a small percentage of our farmlands and about 5% of what’s in stores.
However, organic is growing fast. So fast that the supply is not enough and we have to import from other countries organic foods and products. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could grow all the organic food we needed here in the US? This would benefit our farmers and our economy.
So next time you see someone having a debate about organics remind that it is only a small percentage and if you know any farmers, encourage them to make the switch. We need more organic products since more and more people are starting to realize how important is to live a non-toxic lifestyle.
It takes 3 years to convert a conventional farm to an organic farm, but it is worth it
I am not a farmer nor live in a city that has lots of farms. I knew there was a learning curve and adaptation of the crops when a farmer decides he wants to convert to organic but I didn’t know it was such a lengthly process.
Not only does it take 3 years but it’s takes a big financial investment from the farmers in order to make this change. However, they do recoup this investment since organic produce has a higher value.
The financial benefit is not the only one, there have been studies that prove that organic farmers live a happier lifestyle. Most importantly, by growing produce using organic practices, the farmers are not being exposed to all those nasty pesticides so they are overall healthier.
Organic just makes sense, if you ask me. It’s better for the farmer, for the crops, for the environment and for our healthy. It is important that we support organic farmers and companies that create organic products because this has to become the norm. Our kids deserve cleaner and safer foods and products. Organic is a great place to start.
What the USDA Organic label really means
I’ve heard all kinds of things about this label, from people trusting it to a lot of misinformation.
I’ve also seen the same company sell produce labeled as conventional and as organic. I always wondered how were the foods handled to guarantee they are indeed organic if one company was handling both.
I learned that the USDA Organic label has very strong guidelines, that are mandatory, and they are enforced. Farms get yearly visits, and sometimes more, where inspectors check their equipment, crops and their entire line to make sure they are complying and they are truly organic. Some of these visits are unannounced so the farmers won’t even know they are coming. Most of these inspections are long, they take from days to weeks, depending on the size of the farm/company.
If one company sells both organic and conventional products, this means the organic side is handled as a totally different operation: the produce is grown in other farms, it’s handled in other warehouses and follows different guidelines.
It’s important to know what the USDA Organic label really means. It’s takes a lot of hard work, inspections and following guidelines for a product to have this label. From the USDA:
USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.
Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In instances when a grower has to use a synthetic substance to achieve a specific purpose, the substance must first be approved according to criteria that examine its effects on human health and the environment.
As for organic meat, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.
When it comes to processed, multi-ingredient foods, the USDA organic standards specify additional considerations. Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions.
So organic is the best thing we can feed our families but especially our kids. Their little bodies are always developing, growing, forming… If they have optimal nutrition and are not constantly exposed to toxic chemicals, they will have a great health and development.
Now-a-days you can find so many organic options in stores and online (we get most of our organic cleaners and organic cleaners from Amazon), so next time you’re buying something for your family look for the USDA Organic label.
Want to learn more about organic?
The Organic Center has a lot of amazing information and you’ll want to bookmark this site. They take all of those scientific studies and break them down for us so they’re easier to understand. Click here to visit their site and sign up to their mailing list if you want to get their latest information.
Do you buy organic? I’d love to know what you think about it!
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