Nutritional Reference:
Beginner's Guide To Organic Living

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People are increasingly interested in living in a way that promotes good health. Not only do they want to make changes that are good for themselves, but that are also healthy for their families and the environment.

Unfortunately, synthetic materials, pesticides, and other potentially harmful chemicals can be found in many of the items that people use on a daily basis. These items include everything from food to hygiene products. In efforts to live a more healthful life and lifestyle, more people are turning to organic products as a solution.

What is Organic?

The word organic is used to describe products that are made or grown without the use of chemicals, such as pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, organic products have not been irradiated, are not bioengineered, and have not been exposed to sewage sludge. It is most often used to describe food items, such as food that comes from animals or that is grown from the Earth.

Organic may also be used to describe certain cosmetic or personal care products. When a person buys food that is labeled organic, he or she should understand that it is not guaranteeing high quality, or claiming that it has a higher nutritional value than other foods. The term is only made in reference to the way that the food was grown or produced.

Benefits of Eating Organic

One of the most appealing benefits of eating organic food is that people are able to avoid putting undesirable or unsafe foods into their bodies. Organic foods, by definition, are foods that have not been exposed to the toxins that conventionally grown foods are subject to. As a result, people who eat organic foods do not run the risk of consuming certain pesticides and other chemicals.

This is particularly important when it comes to children.

The environment is another area where the benefits of organic food are clearly evident. With conventional farming, techniques are used that can damage water quality and destroy microbes in the soil, including those that are beneficial. Organic food production actually improves the quality of soil and also helps to protect water quality. When people consume organic food, it also benefits small farms.

Understanding Organic Food Labels

Organic food must meet U.S. National Organic Standards set by the National Organics Standard Board. In order to be sold as organic it must also be certified by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) accredited certifier.

This also applies to foods that are grown outside of the country.

When a food item meets these standards, it will have the USDA Organic Seal on its label. This means that the product is certified as organic. Items with this label will either be marked as "100 percent Organic" or "Organic." Items that are marked as "100 percent organic" must have no synthetic ingredients whatsoever.

"Organic" products are those with contents that are at least 95 percent organic.

Labels of some processed products may read "Made with Organic Ingredients." This means that it contains no less than 70 percent organic ingredients. These products will not have the USDA organic seal.

If a product has less than 70 percent organic ingredients, it cannot use the word "Organic" on the label. It may, however, use the word to describe specific ingredients, but only on the ingredient information portion of the label.

Money Saving Tips For Buying Organic Foods

Organic foods are often more expensive than foods that are conventionally grown. This additional cost can be prohibitive for some. When a person wants to enjoy the benefits of eating organic, there are ways to do so without exhausting their food budget. One way to save money is to buy organic fruits and vegetables when they are in season.

In general, foods that are in season are less expensive than those that are not. If a person is not certain which food items are in season, he or she should ask the produce employee at the local grocer. Also like other foods, organic products do go on sale. Before buying anything, check out weekly sales papers for the best sales prices.

Farmer's markets are also a good place to look for quality organic food that is reasonably priced. Before making a purchase, verify that the food is actually organically grown. Use coupons for organic products whenever possible. Coupons for organic products can be found online and in the coupon section of local newspapers. Another way to save money on non-perishable organic food is to buy in bulk.

Often grocery warehouse stores sell certain organic food items in bulk, which may end up being cheaper in the long run than buying from traditional grocery stores.

Other Ways to Live Organically

Living an organic lifestyle goes beyond eating organically certified foods. Some people may choose to cut as many chemical or toxic items out of their lives as possible. They can do this by buying organic personal care products, such as toothpaste, lotions, shampoos, and even cosmetics.

Instead of buying household cleaners, a person may choose to make their own by using chemical-free products such as organic vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. Even the clothing that a person buys can be made from materials whose fibers comply with organic agricultural standards and are free of pesticides, herbicides and genetic modification.

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