Organic used to be used like a dirty word in many areas. As in, "Oh, well she eats organic," was akin to someone being a tree-hugging, chaining yourself to a shrub, commune-loving hippie. Thank goodness things have changed, right?
Today, more and more people are eating organic foods, and cooking with organic ingredients. And guess what? You don't need specific "organic recipes" to cook with organics. They can be used in just about any recipe.
So, what does organic mean exactly? According to the Organic Trade Association, organic foods are made of ingredients that are produced without using "toxic and persistent insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers." That means that the food is closer to the earth, with less chemical. But it's important to note that the USDA points out that organic doesn't mean healthier.
Did you know that there are different standards for what products can label themselves as organic? The USDA has a four-tiered system for the labeling of organics:
- 100% Organic: This can only be used for single-ingredient foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses (water and salt are excluded)
- Organic: This designation is for foods with multiple ingredients. To be labeled as organic, the total food has to be between 95 and 100 percent organic.
- Made with Organic Ingredients: This designation is also for foods with multiple ingredients. For this designation, 70 percent of the ingredients in a food must be organic.
- Contains Organic Ingredients: This designation for foods with multiple ingredients signifies that the food has less than 70 percent organic ingredients.
- Cheat Sheet: Want to make sure that you are getting the most organic? Look for the USDA Organic Label, which can only be used for foods that fall into the 100% organic and organic designations.
Ready for some organic food recipes? These range from healthy organic recipes to decadent ones ... and they are sure to be tasty.
So, do you eat organic? Share in the comments.
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron is a food writer, editor and blogger. Find her online at Sarah's Cucina Bella.