When you’re researching healthy practices, it’s easy to fall into the rabbit hole of online information about “organic” & “beyond organic” foods. It’s not always clear how their labels translate to healthier food for you. Here’s a brief overview of these terms and what theymean for your health and the environment.
Organic:In a nutshell, a farm or product that bears the USDA Certified Organic label has used strictly no antibiotics, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (known as GMOs: pesticide-laden monocrops and lab-engineered Frankenfoods), or irradiation in production. The list of allowed pesticides is highly restricted to include only the least toxic controls, derived primarily from natural (non-synthetic) ingredients.
Beyond Organic: Food Guru Michael Pollan created the term “Beyond Organic,” which encompasses the whole process of growing, producing, packaging, and delivering our food, following no set of established regulations. This basically means that a farmer is using sustainable practices without paying to have the label on his or her goods that says so.According to Pollan, ”To shop and eat sustainably is more than just how the food is produced. It also means avoiding heavily packaged and processed foods, reducing food waste, and considering the connection between our food and global warming.”In essence, Beyond Organic means cultivating food in a way that’s sustainable for the land, healthy for the animals and workers, less environmentally impactful for the planet, and healthful for the consumer. Since there are currently no established labels for this type of biodynamic practice, the best way to eat Beyond Organic is to source your food locally.
While we’re at it, what does “local” entail? While there is no certification for local, it generally refers to food that is sourced within a 100-mile radius, or food that has been produced within the same state. Eating locally contributes to a sustainable agricultural economy and work force and creates shorter transport distances which reduces gas emissions. You’ll also reap the benefits of fresher produce that’s always grown in season, plus you’ll be supporting small farmers and businesses within your community.
By using more sustainable sources, we are more likely to have a diet that is lower in processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. Approximately half of all American adults have one or more preventable chronic disease caused by poor diet and lifestyle, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers. Local food is also grown seasonally, harvested at peak freshness, and in your kitchen in less time, which means more nutrients as well as fresher foods for your everyday diet.
So what now? The more you know about your food, the healthier your decisions can be.If you choose to shop close to home, chances are good that you’re supporting organic and sustainable farms. Building this connection will allow you to make an informed and educated decision about the food you purchase and ultimately put on your family’s table.
Where To Shop For Locally Grown Food:
This article was compiled by Farmhouse Delivery and Registered Dietician, Jennifer Wible.