16th September 2007

When is Organic not good for you?

posted in The Daily Diet by Trisha

When the giant, multi-billion-dollar food industry tries to fool consumers into buying a product – any product – by simply slapping the word “organic” on the packaging.  As consumers, it’s up to us to be aware that the word “organic” alone does not signify healthy.   It simply means that (some of) the ingredients were (supposed to have been) grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or growth hormones.  It does not mean that whatever is in the package is low in fat (or trans-fats free) or low in sugar.

Today I was at the grocery store and was struck by how many of the “store brand” options now have that word – organic – in big bold letters right on the packaging.  However, a quick glance at the label was enough for me to leave it on the shelf.  For example, I was buying cereal, and I generally buy Special K High Protein (as a vegetarian I am always looking to make sure I get enough protein), which has only 2 grams of sugar per serving.  Nearby on the shelf was a box of (store brand) “Organic” cereal (similar – lightly sweetened crunchy flake stuff), but it had over 18 grams of sugar per serving, and more fat.

This is just one example – I’m sure you’d find hundreds more if you spend time comparing labels, but the point is this:  know when it’s good to buy organic (with fresh produce, juices, breads, and dairy products), and when it’s just a waste of money (snacks, cereals, dry goods, canned goods, etc).   Don’t be fooled by the hype – read the labels and make smart decisions based on the nutritional content.  Look for foods that are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins/minerals, and low in sugar (including artificial sweeteners) and fats.

Don’t be taken in by a word on a box!

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