A couple days ago, on a trip to the grocery store with my girlfriend, Taylor’s, family, I got some looks and questions like, “why do you eat healthy?” All I said back was, “because I enjoy it.” While that’s true, to give a full answer I would say it’s because I want to optimize my performance in the gym to achieve my ideal body while also doing minimal damage to my body. I’ve also learned to really enjoy it because I feel better than ever. Another question that I got was about the organic whole milk that I bought and I’m glad they asked me - “what’s the difference between organic and not organic?” While I had a decent general idea, before now I never actually looked into the USDA standards so I did some research and now want to share what I found!
I was surprised to see that the USDA has good regulations set up in order to certify anything as organic. On-site inspections are held prior to approval and annually from then on to verify standards are being met, even including record keeping done by the farmer. To be able to call something “organic,” The farmer must provide a organic production and handling system plan, showing the practices, procedures, a list of all substances used, and more. Even to say “made with organic ingredients” without the USDA seal, at least 70% of the ingredients must be produced and handled to Federal standards.
Let’s get into what these standards are...
The USDA works to make sure animals are raised in humane living conditions, provided organic food, and not given any antibiotics or hormones that are deemed harmful to the animal itself or the nutrition they provide us.
Here are some key points in their standards pertaining to livestock:
When it comes to crops, the USDA holds standards and also gathers tests and samples of soil, water, waste, seeds, and plants themselves to ensure practices are being done to minimize damage to the environment and to the health and nutrition of the crops.
Here are some key points in their standards pertaining to crops:
The standards go far beyond this post but this was just to give an overview of what the USDA standards look like for anything to be called “organic.” This set of standards, I feel, is very important and eye-opening because it shows:
Before looking at this, I just trusted experts when they said how much of a difference it makes, but now I know that it is worth spending the extra: I would rather get quality and care than cheap and convenient. When foods are not organic, you could very well be eating meat from cows who are sick, overcrowded, and overfed and eating fruit that lacks a lot of the nutrition.
What products do you make sure are labeled "organic" when you buy groceries? Do you notice a difference in taste?
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