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Students eat organic

Evan Hay, Reporter
February 15, 2013

Go Green! Shop Local! Eat organic! The healthful messages that seem to be everywhere have been piling up and one must ask just what does it all mean? Does eating organic really make one a healthier person or is it just another craze?

What does organic even mean? According to mayoclinic.org, organic refers to the process used when farming. Instead of using chemicals and fertilizers to prevent weeds and pest problems, farmers exercise more refined crop rotations and spread mulch, manure or compost. This method promotes the conservation of water and soil. It also lowers pollution.

Kayla Koeppen, pre-physical education senior, said she likes to eat organic so she has a better idea what’s in her food. She said she tries to eat organic as often as she can.

There are many ways to tell if a product is organic. One of the easiest ways is to check the label. In order to be labeled organic, the product must be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA.

There are strict government standards farmers must adhere to as to how foods are processed and handled. However, not all organic labels are created equal. According to mayoclinic.org, if the product contains one ingredient, such as vegetables and fruits, it can be labeled “100 percent organic.” If the product contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients it can be labeled “organic.”

There is a difference between “natural products” and certified organic products.

According to fitday.com, products labeled “natural” are under no supervision or regulation by the USDA. “Natural” can mean the specific product has fewer additives and preservatives than others.

There are benefits to eating organic. Studies have shown organic foods like meat, eggs, milk and produce, do not actually contain more nutrients or vitamins than nonorganic foods. Studies have also shown, however, that organic meats are less likely to be exposed to and/or contain “superbug” bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics put in nonorganic meats. Nonorganic produce are 30 percent more prone to pesticides.

“I like knowing there aren’t pesticides and antibiotics in what I eat. I also like buying locally grown organic food to support local businesses,” Koeppen said.

The biggest question for students looking to eat organic foods is the cost. Holly Huddleston, manager at New City Market, said they sometimes can be, but for a reason.

“Reasons vary as to why organic products can be more expensive,” Huddleston said. “Demand is a factor as well as the growing process. It can be more challenging and take more effort, time, land and care to grow organic foods.”
There are a number of health food stores in the area that offer an extensive variety of organic foods to support any menu.

“We try to keep things pretty pure,” Huddleston said. “We try very hard to keep artificial ingredients out of our store. We are very knowledgeable about dietary issues and we take time with people to provide them with a helpful service.”
Aaron Staver, psychology senior, said  he thinks the health and environmental benefits outweigh the added cost of eating organic products.

“It’s easy to buy organic things even though they cost a little more. It’s a little extra cost here and there to support local farmers and take in fewer chemicals and pesticides. For me, it’s worth it,” Staver said.

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