Organic produce is the most popular category of organic food and definitely receives the most attention. Consisting of fruits and vegetables, organic produce differs from conventional produce in the way that it is handled, grown and processed.
Known by many as “natural” food, this type of food is produced without conventional pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic or sewage-derived fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation (irradiation). Farmers also focus on conserving the environment and believe in the use of renewable resources.
So how do you know what you are getting when you decide to buy organic products and how do you make your grocery shopping an easier task? The answers are simple if you buy your produce from the right places. The “right” place is usually not a supermarket chain.
Consider these alternatives:
1. Local farmers’ markets. At local farmers’ markets, you can usually talk to the farmers directly and ask about how they grow their produce. Make sure to ask if they operate certified organic farms. Even if they don’t, if they employ organic farming practices it is probably safe to buy their produce.
2. Food cooperatives. Most food-co-ops buy local organic products and offer cheaper prices than supermarkets. Many co-ops are natural food or health markets committed to product quality and consumer education.
3. Community-supported agriculture (CSA): Many communities have programs that connect CSA members with local farmers who provide the members with produce throughout the harvest season. A great resource for locating CSAs and local farmers’ markets in your area is to contact your local harvest organization.
Buying organic produce does not have to be an overwhelming task. Just remember to familiarize yourself with the food labels and understand that different levels of organic certifications exist.