TV shows, the Internet, other parents on the playground — everyone is buzzing about organic living. So, you may have decided to check it out, finding yourself in the grocery aisle staring at food packaging. But, like many other buzz words, it can all be a bit confusing. When a product is labeled “organic,” what does that really say? Let’s break down the word and talk about what it means for you, your family, and your lifestyle.
What Does Organic Living Really Mean?
In the simplest literal term, organic means that something is chemical-free. But, there’s a cultural aspect to organic living, too! It means that you are choosing to buy items that are good for you, your family, and the environment. And, this extends past just food. Organic living entails more than just what you eat, but also what daily products you use, what clothes you wear, and what choices you make every day. It involves being aware of what chemicals you are exposed to and what effects they have on the environment.
Let’s use what we eat as an example. Historically, agriculture didn’t involve using extra chemicals to help crops grow a certain way. Meat was processed without steroids. But now, it’s common practice to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides in farming and to use hormones in meat processing. These chemical enhancements became more common because they help food producers make more food and control aspects like size and color.
But, this level of scientific control can have negative effects — both on the health of those who are consuming these modified products and the environment that receives all of the product waste. These chemicals can be dangerous, even more for growing children who are more susceptible to toxins than adults.
Organic vs. Non-organic: How Do I Know?
Organic food and items are definitely different from those that are non-organic, although sometimes, that difference isn’t a visual one.
You can be in the produce aisle looking at two cartons of strawberries that seem the same, except the difference is huge. Strawberries are grown with an alarming amount of pesticides compared to the average amount used. While an average 25 pounds of pesticides are used per acre for crops, a whopping 300 pounds are applied to every acre of strawberries. That’s 12 times the amount of pesticides which long-term toxic effects can cause harm.
So, it is important to know if what you think is organic actually is. When shopping at a store, your first step is to look for a USDA organic seal. It’s only given to products that reach very specific guidelines such as preserving natural resources, support animal health, and omitting any genetically modified ingredients.
How are Organic Brands Different?
Brands that have products that are certified organic, such as Surf Sweets, seek to eliminate the unnatural barrier between ingredients and your taste buds. They provide people with a safer, healthier alternative that benefits families and helps with the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. This process starts from the very beginning because every sourced ingredient is safe for the environment and for the people that are growing them.
Okay, I’m convinced! How do I do it?
From the elimination of toxins to increase in nutrients and taste, organic eating is worth the effort. Not sure how to start? Here three simple ways to start living more organically today.
1. Check the labels.
Grocery stores now make it easier than ever to spot organic items from their non-organic twins. Look at the PLU number. If it’s organic, it will contain five digits that start with ‘9.’ If you’re at a farmer’s market where items may not be labeled with stickers, you can always ask the seller to see his or her certification paperwork.
A product’s ingredient list is also an easy way to see how organic it is. Organic food companies are often transparent about the ingredients they use so if you look at the label on a product or online, you will probably recognize them all.
2. Start a small vegetable garden.
When you grow your own food, you know exactly what is in it. Start a garden with a few of your favorite vegetables and make it a fun family project! You can use organic seeds to start and then create your own compost as a fertilizer. Greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and root vegetables like carrots are easy to grow and perfect for your family’s dinner salad.
3. Make your own cleaning products.
Most cleaning products, even those you use in your kitchen, contain a ton of chemicals. Instead of using those, create your own. Many natural items found in your kitchen cabinet or refrigerator such as vinegar, lemon, and salt can do a great job of cleaning with little or no added chemicals.
Remember that choosing to live a more organic life can make a huge impact even with small steps. It can take some time, practice and patience, but even simple measures, like choosing sustainably made clothing or eating candy with organic ingredients can make a big difference in your lives.
Is organic living important to you? Show us how and what products help you live organically on Facebook or Instagram! We’d love to hear from you!