the other day at the grocery store i was pushing my cart down the cookie aisle (i think lentils are in the same aisle, which is, of course, why i was there) when i started to notice the word "organic" on almost every box that i passed. crummy brothers "organic" cookies, newman's own "organic" o's, "organic" fig newtons. at this point i'm wondering, are these the new snackwells of the 21st century? low-fat cookies were all the rage back in the '90s and people would scarf down those little green packages of vanilla creme sandwiches like it was nobody's business. and as their weight started to creep up, they blamed high fat foods like peanut butter, nuts, and avocados instead of the pounds of sugar they were consuming on a daily basis. oh, how ignorant we once were. we'll never fall for another marketing ploy again! or will we? nowadays, "organic" is the new buzz word and marketers are seizing every opportunity to tout their products as "organic" in order to appeal to the health conscious consumer (or the not so health conscious consumer that just wants to feel good about his choice of "organic" fig newtons). we are ignoring saturated fat and added sugar because it doesn't really matter as long as the ingredients are "organic," right? wrong. while i understand the benefit of buying organic fruits, vegetables, meats, and eggs, i'm pretty sure an oreo is an oreo whichever way you stack it...organic or not.
the USDA organic program defines "organic" as follows:
"Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meetUSDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too."
|certified organic label: product is at least 95% organic|
by no means am i saying that the "organic" claim on the boxes of cookies should be ignored - just don't let it hide the fact that, albeit organic, the product you are purchasing is high fat and sugar and low nutritional value. the first question you should ask yourself is: will this food, organic or conventional, benefit my health if i eat it? if the answer is no, that doesn't mean you can't eat it. but while you're dunking that little newman's o into a glass of sweetened soy milk, please don't justify your indulgence by saying "but it's organic!"
if you really want to be healthy, eat whole, unprocessed foods as often as possible. anything processed and packaged can and should be avoided, especially if it's something like cookies. the more foods you eat that are exactly how they exist in nature (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts), the better off you'll be. period.
[more on organic as it relates to fruits and vegetables later. in the meantime, put down that oreo and grab an apple. please.]