Kleinburg Integrative Health:

Is Organic Always Better?

You would think I’d say yes, right?

Well, yes. And, no.

I’m all for organic produce. I love all fresh organic fruits and veggies.

But, organic processed foods? Most of the time, definitely better, but not always.

Keep in mind that organic processed foods often contain added sugar, salt, refined flour, corn starch in gluten-free products and commonly added thickening agents like carrageenan in non-dairy organic alternatives. So, just because the product has the virtuous ‘organic’ label on it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it contains fewer calories, has lower fat content, less sodium or more protein. What these products do have is fewer chemicals, no synthetic pesticides, and the nutrition label stipulates clear regulations about the quality of the ingredients used. Additionally, the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) is strictly prohibited in organic foods. So when you buy a box of organic mac and cheese, know that you’re avoiding GMO’s entirely.

I know that we can’t prepare things from scratch 100% of the time and that the packaged food aisle is often a lifesaver for many of us. I also understand that, if you have kids, the occasional potato chips and packaged chicken nuggets may still be a go-to and I can assure you that buying them organically is better for you and your family.

But, remember, organic processed food is still processed, industrialized, factory-made. Nothing is healthier than preparing our own food, in our own kitchen. We all know that a whole sweet potato (organic or not) is way healthier for us than a bag of organic sweet potato chips.

Bottom line: When you go grocery shopping, try filling your cart with at least 80% whole foods. Have the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list (the 12 produce that must be organic) handy on your phone or in your wallet and if you can, while choosing your produce, make sure that at least the 12 listed produce are organic. As far as the other 20% in your cart, packaged, organic or not, make your choices based on the INGREDIENT LIST. Read your labels very carefully. As a rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients, the better (and make sure you know what they mean and are able to pronounce them!). There are most definitely some great organic product options out there. The key is to stay mindful.

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