Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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Guest Post: A Short Guide to Organic Eating

For those that have recently decided that they want to simultaneously play their part in preserving the planet while changing their family's eating habits for the better, cooking and serving food made from organic and grass fed products, for example, is an excellent way to achieve their goals. But sometimes these "green" food labels are confusing (each label means something entirely different). To get some insight to what products you should purchase for your family and to better explain what these labels mean, continue reading below.

1. Organic Foods
This is the term that most see when shopping at their local grocery stores: organic vegetables, organic fruit, even organic coffee—but what does the word really mean and why are organic foods so darn expensive? In nutshell, anything that is grown or processed without the use of any synthetic or chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or preservatives can be labeled as organic. While organic foods essentially taste better and are so much healthier than their pesticide-infested counterparts (consuming too much pesticide can result in many illnesses and diseases, including birth defects and motor dysfunction) production costs to nurture and handle organic foods is expensive. Thus individual farmers, markets, and large retail food stores must charge extra to compensate. If you cannot afford to go organic 100 percent, you can save some money by simply purchasing some non-organic foods that naturally use lower levels of pesticides, like tomatoes, cabbage and avocados. There are some particular foods that you should always purchase organically however, like apples and lettuce.  For more must-purchase organic foods, refer to this neat little list composed by HealthyChildHealthWorld.org.

2. Natural 
A huge misconception that one may have is that the terms "natural" and "organic" are interchangeable. They are not. Like organic foods, natural is a label used to refer to foods derived from plants and animals without being "chemically processed". This means they do not contain any artificial flavoring, colors, preservatives, or refined sugars. However, if they are grown on a farm, they can be treated with pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods, on the other hand, are grown using "renewable sources" such as manure. And only organic foods have a certifying body. Natural can also mean the animal was fed hormones and growth enhancers. The only way to make sure your meats are clear of hormones is to look for the "no hormones added" or "no antibiotics added" food labels. 

3. Grass-Fed Foods
This sticker is only used when labeling certain animals, such as dairy cows, goats, and cattle. As the name suggests, this labels indicates that the animal was fed a pure diet of grass or pasture and had access to the outdoors.  These animals, because they are not fed a bunch of gunk and are allowed to roam, are typically healthier and leaner meat choices. But of course, they cost a tad more than non-grass fed meats.

4. Free-Range Foods
This term, while it can be used to refer to the condition of all sorts of animals, is typically used on poultry packages.  Like the name suggests, this indicates that the animal was allowed to "roam the range, freely." However, it is not wise to assume that just because the animals were free to roam the range that they did not experience any foul treatment. This is because there are no real strict rules when it comes to getting this label. For example, the range may be in terrible condition or exceptionally small, the farmer may only release the animal for short periods of time and feed it a bunch of junk, but since technically the animal is released from its cage every now and then, it can still acquire a free-range food label.  

Author Bio:
Donna Reish, a freelancer who blogs about best universities, contributed this guest post.  She loves to write education, career, frugal living, finance, health, parenting relating articles. She can be reached via email at: donna.reish13@gmail.com.

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