How ‘Organic’ is Your Life?

People talk about it. They argue about it. They eat it.

It’s organic food, but really what is it? Why does it matter?

Organics is a technique used by farmers to cultivate, and raise crops and animals.

“Organic refers to any product that is not chemically treated or cross pollinated with any other substances that have been chemically treated,” said Natasha Mays, 30, a fourth-year chemistry student, from South Bay, Fla.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic is the term used to label products cultivated under the Organic Foods Production Act.

Farmers must ensure that food meet certain criteria to be certified organic under USDA guidelines.

Understanding the criteria can help shoppers make better purchases.

When reading labels, pay close attention. There is a difference between products that are labeled “organic,” “100 percent organic” and “made with organic products.” The difference in these categories is simply the amount of organic ingredients in a particular product.

Products containing all organic ingredients are sealed with the “100 percent organic” label. Those that consist of ingredients that are at least 95 percent organic will be labeled “organic.” Many products may have a label that states that they are made with organic ingredients. They need to have a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients.

Studies have shown that by going the organic route, persons can maximize their consumption of vitamins and nutrients, without taking in as many chemicals and hormones. Research conducted by chemistry professor Theo Clark and students of Truman State University showed that organic oranges contained up to 30 percent more vitamin C than oranges that are grown conventionally.

Consumers usually see and feel the health benefits of investing in organic products. “Since using organic products, the biggest difference that I noticed was in my skin,” said Mays.

For many students leading an organic lifestyle can be expensive.

Cutting down on the amount of harmful chemicals and pesticides don’t have to cost a fortune. There are several places one could go to purchase organic products. New Leaf produce manager Jonathan Manning explained that everything at New Leaf market is five percent off for students on Wednesdays.

“It is always good to buy locally for there are several community gardens where consumers can go to make purchases,” said Manning.

However, it is not always necessary to have a complete organic diet. There are some conventional items that aren’t as harmful as others. Manning said it is always good to at least buy organic produce. Some local farms may offer organic produce at an even cheaper price than that of common produce.

The consumption of organic products is beneficial to ones health but it is also a way of life. Not only do organic foods contribute to the physical well-being of individuals, it protects the environment.