I’m a huge fan of organic growing methods. Don’t let the title of this post make you think otherwise. But what I’m not a fan of are a lot of the certified organic myths that many people seem to believe.
Check out the 6 USDA Certified Organic Myths I’ve addresses below. Are there any of them that you believed?
6 USDA Certified Organic Myths
Myth #1-USDA certified organic means no pesticides, fungicides or chemicals are used during crop or livestock production.
Organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of pesticides and some fungicides on their crops. The catch is, they must be derived from natural sources.
The fact is, there are over 20 chemicals that USDA certified organic farmers are allowed to use for control of pests or fungi. Some of them are considered mildly toxic by the EPA and some are harmful to good bugs AKA pollinators. Such as: pyrethrin, spinosad and azadirachtin. Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4
Myth #2- USDA certified organic food is always grown in a way that is good for the environment.
I think it should be, but it isn’t always. If your decision to purchase organic food is based on concerns about the impact on our environment, you might want to ask your farmer some questions before forking over your hard earned money in the name of saving the planet.
Certified Organic Farms are allowed to use copper based fungicides that are poison to aquatic invertebrates. Also permitted are naturally derived pesticides that can harm pollinators, among other things (see myth #1).
And while one farm might carefully spray pesticides in a manor that will reduce harm to pollinators and apply a copper based fungicide, only if needed and only in the smallest amount that is effective, another farm might spray liberally and often “just in case”. Source 5, Source 6
In addition, the USDA Certified Organic program does not take into consideration the amount of fossil fuels used to truck organic food from the farm to the grocery store and ultimately, to your dinner plate. Did you know that if you are buying your organic foods from the grocery store, most items travel distances of about 1,500 miles from farm to store. That’s a lot of fuel!
Myth#3-Organic foods contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than their conventionally grown counterparts.
There are many factors that influence the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables such as, the fertility of the soil they were grown in, how they were fertilized, what variety they are and how ripe they were when they were picked.
Many commercially grown fruits and vegetables (organic or not) are picked well before they are ripe so they don’t spoil or bruise as easily during the miles and miles they travel before reaching store shelves. Long transport times mean that the produce is several day old before we bring it home to feed our families with it. Picking fruits and vegetables before they are ripe and long storage time both cause nutrient loss.
That means certified organic tomatoes grown in Mexico or Florida and sold at your Southeastern Indiana grocery stores, are likely less nutritious than the the locally grown tomatoes sold at a Farmers market near you. Whether they are certified organic or not. Source 7
Myth#4- Any food that is USDA Certified Organic is a healthy choice for my family.
There are a lot of processed junk foods on the market today bearing the USDA Certified Organic stamp of approval. It doesn’t mean these foods are good for you.
A few examples include: Natures Path Organic Pastries, Newman’s Own Organic Cookies, Blue Sky Certified Organic Soda or even Certified Organic Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner.
I rest my case.
Myth #5 – USDA certified organic food is always grown on small family farms.
If you want to support a small family farm, join a CSA, head to your nearest farmers market, or seek out a local family with a farm and buy directly from them. We list lots of them here at Real Food Southeastern Indiana.
Myth #6-Organic food is sustainably grown.
Not necessarily. See Myth 5. A factory farm, is a factory farm, is a factory farm.
The Morals Of This Story Are
If you are concerned with pesticide residues and/or the environment, get to know your farmer. Ask them lots of questions like: what pesticides and fungicides they use, what they use for fertilizer, if their crops are GMO, what they feed their cattle, chickens, pigs…………………………………………………………………………
If you want your foods to contain high levels of nutrients, your chances are better if you purchase things that are grown locally and picked just before they are sold.
Which of these 6 certified organic myths did you used to believe?
Are you a local food lover or a proud Hoosier?
If you are, we hope you’ll keep in touch!