You have all seen the labels popping up everywhere in the aisles grocery stores and supermarkets: “USDA organic” this; “certified naturally grown” that. You will even see certified organic labels displayed on some of the booths at farmers markets. While the practice of organic farming and dieting are both rapidly growing trends, the majority of shoppers do not have a firm grasp on what a truly organic product even is and whether it is worth the extra cost, considering that the organic version of any product almost always costs more than its non-organic equivalent.
This is true even for a lot of people who have already jumped on the organic train simply because they have heard that it is a healthier route. If you have been thinking about how to start an organic diet, you should first familiarize yourself with the industry and why it is becoming so popular.
There are many misconceptions about the term “organic.” Organically grown food is generally produced without using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but it is not free of pesticides and fertilizers altogether. There are tons of natural pesticides and fertilizers that are USDA-approved for organic farming. Organic products are also free of irradiation (a radiation technique that is used to kill some forms of bacteria) and genetic modification. Organically raised animals are fed organically grown food and do not receive antibiotics or synthetically-produced growth chemicals.
It makes sense to be wary of potentially consuming trace amounts of harmful chemicals for your entire life. In truth, much of the studies concerning organic food are inconclusive as of yet as to the impact their production may have on the environment and consumer health. Some of the main ideas behind the organic movement’s hope for the future are as follows:
• By decreasing the amount of man-made chemicals that enter the soil, the soil and groundwater will remain richer and purer.
• By using only or mostly naturally-made pesticides, the emergence of pesticide-resistant superbugs will be avoided, thus eliminating the perpetual need for even more and stronger pesticides.
• By growing fruits and vegetables as naturally as possible, the nutritional content of the produce will be more potent and safer for continued consumption than synthetically modified versions of the same products.
• By eliminating the use of antibiotics in livestock, humans who consume said livestock will avoid possible over-consumption of antibiotics and, therefore, avoid developing a resistance to them.
How to Start an Organic Diet
With all that said, there are some things to consider concerning how to start an organic diet that is nutritionally beneficial and will promote weight loss. First of all, do not be fooled into thinking that organic and healthy are interchangeable terms. Just because it says “organic” on the package does not automatically make it healthy or harmless to eat while on a diet. Regardless of the potential health benefits of organic foods, you still have to use your own discernment and choose those foods that will most enhance your diet and improve the physical welfare of your lifestyle.
For example, a box of macaroni and cheese labeled as organic is still just a box of carbs and an over-processed powdered cheese mix. You do not have to be an educated nutritionist to see that stocking up on the organic mac ‘n cheese versus the familiar blue box is not going to result in pounds shed. Just use your common sense and pay attention when you go grocery shopping. When selecting wholesome foods for your diet, check out the organic diet food versions of the same things you would normally buy. Just about everything you purchase nowadays will have an organic version right next to your usual brand. They are usually clearly marked with a label on the shelf and the packaging will be marked as well.
Many people seem to have this idea (due to the way the products are marketed, not to the fault of the individual) that buying organically means supporting the efforts of cute little old farmers in straw hats who are just trying to make an honest living. The reality is that many of the better-known organic brands (like Kashi, Odwalla, and Naked) are actually owned by some of the world’s largest non-organic companies (Kellogg, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi, respectively). So, perhaps the best way to incorporate organic diet foods into your everyday or even weekly meal plan is by supporting certified organic growers at your local farmers market. This way you can get your naturally healthy produce and know exactly where your money is going.
Going organic does not have to mean never again eating a single thing that does not have the USDA organic stamp of approval on it. You can work it into your diet little by little by simply trying various items. The ones you like can start making a more regular appearance on your grocery list. Trying just a few new items every time you shop will lead to more and more organic diet foods gracing your shelves on a regular basis. Before you know it, the ratio of organic foods to non-organic foods that you consume will have improved drastically.