Is Organic Worth the Hype and Money?

What Does Organic Mean?

If you see the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal on your food, the item must have an ingredients list that is 95-percent or more certified organic, meaning free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes. It must also not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The remaining 5 percent of ingredients may only be foods with additives on an approved list.

For food products to advertised as organic and certified by the USDA, they must pass the certification program. This program requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled, and processed.

What’s the Hype?

Organic foods have gone from being specialty items in health food stores to lining the shelves of mainstream supermarkets. The organic food market in the United States hit a record $45.2 billion in sales in 2017. In 2017 organic food accounted for 5.5 percent of the food sold in retail channels in the U.S. But, many consumers don’t know what makes a food product organic and whether the label is worth paying for.

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Benefits of Going Organic

How your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts, and people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.

Eating organic can help with keeping your immune system at its fullest potential. Animal products that come from free-range or cage-free animals have higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid, a heart-healthy fatty acid that can boost cardiovascular protection when consumed.

Dangers of Non-Organic Foods

Most of us have an accumulated build-up of pesticide exposure in our bodies due to numerous years of exposure. This chemical “body burden,” as it is medically known, could lead to health issues such as headaches, birth defects, and added strain on weakened immune systems. Some studies have indicated that the use of pesticides even at low doses can increase the risk of certain cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.

Children and fetuses are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their immune systems, bodies, and brains are still developing. Exposure at an early age may cause developmental delays, behavioral disorders, autism, immune system harm, and motor dysfunction.

Organic on a Budget

Eating organic on a budget takes planning. If you’re in a supermarket and start grabbing all the organic food that you think you will like, then you be in for a shock when the cashier tells you the total price. Instead, start by thinking carefully about exactly which foods you want to start buying organic. Then, focus on getting the best possible deals on those foods with store brands, sales, coupons, and bulk buying.

Another tip to buying organic products for cheaper is to visit a farmers market. Types of products available and prices vary by region, but studies show that farmers markets typically sell their products for less than supermarkets would.

A final tip is to grow your own crops. You’ll know exactly what is going into your food. The savings will be significant because you’ll have your produce right in your backyard. If you are a beginner in the world of gardening, then start small. Below are a couple of books for beginner gardeners and how to grow organically.

Although going organic or being organic has the reputation of being expensive and “the food doesn’t even look good,” the health benefits are undeniable. With proper planning and budgeting, the “organic” lifestyle can be achieved and maintained. In the long run, it will be a beneficial health change, and your body will thank you.

7 Healthy but Cheap Foods

• Beans
• corn tortillas
• Organic Fruits (i.e. Berries and Apples)
• Vegetables
• Peanut Butter
• Regular Rolled Oats
• Popcorn
• Soy Products
• Meat Products (certain cuts like flank and shoulder) • Organic Soups

5 Books to Read and Movies to Watch

• “Food Inc.”

• “Food Fight”

• “Backyard Organic Gardening: The New Gardener’s Guide to Growing Organic Produce” by Nicole Wrinn

• “The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food” by Tanya Denckla Cobb

• “The Organic Food Shopper’s Guide” by Jeff Cox

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Balsamic-Glazed Steak Rolls

Ingredients:

8 thin slices sirloin or flank steak (length and width according to personal preference)

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh rosemary, chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin strips

1 medium yellow onion, halved and then thinly sliced

A few white button or cremini mushrooms, cut into thin strips

For Rosemary Balsamic Glaze:

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup dark balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons dry red wine

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1/4 cup beef broth

Directions:

1. Rub each side of the steak slices with a little extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and some chopped fresh rosemary.

2. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and cook until crisp-tender, seasoning with salt and pepper.

3. Place a few of the vegetable strips vertically on one end of each steak cutlet so that once rolled up the end of the vegetables are sticking out of each end of the steak roll.

4. Roll it up and secure with a toothpick. Repeat for each steak roll.

5. For rosemary balsamic glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add balsamic vinegar, red wine, brown sugar, and rosemary sprigs. Bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add broth, return to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Discard rosemary sprigs.

6. Heat skillet on medium-high heat and cook steak on each side for 2 minutes or according to desired doneness.

7. Serve immediately, drizzled with rosemary balsamic glaze.

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Written by: Kaylee Kopke

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