What You're Forgetting To Buy Organic

Sure, you keep your fruit pesticide-free, but what about these items?

Leah Zerbe April 17, 2015
organic milk
PHOTOGRAPH BY LIZ WEST/FLICKR

Organic food is burgeoning. And shoppers are expanding their organic intentions beyond the produce aisle. Take red meat: as news reports spread about beef recalls and ammonia injected into factory-farmed meat, sales of organic beef keep jumping. Opting for organic items outside the produce aisle is becoming the norm. Interestingly, new data finds that people under 40 are the biggest supporters of organic, regardless of the paycheck they bring in.

Now that you've got the routine of eating fresh organic fruits and veggies down pat, try adding these other must-have organic items to your shopping cart.

Milk
Along with produce, milk is a priority organic product for many consumers. Sometimes referred to as the gateway into organics, many parents line the fridge with organic milk to avoid exposing their family to cancer-causing, genetically engineered growth hormones used in some conventional dairy operations.

Ice Cream
Standard ice cream usually comes from cows fed a steady (and unnatural) diet of genetically engineered corn, soy, and even antibiotics and hormones linked to certain cancers. Organic dairies ban all of these, and their cows eat a more natural diet featuring organic grasses and hay. This, in turn, creates milk higher in a heart-protecting fat called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA.

Eggs
Did you know that more than 90 percent of the eggs produced in this country come from hens crammed into tiny cages and given feed loaded with antibiotics? Consumers are getting the message, and they don't agree. Organic eggs in the supermarket likely come from an indoor operation that feeds organic only and allows the birds to wander about and perform natural behaviors. Birds raised outside on pasture produce nutritionally superior eggs, though, so their eggs are your best bet. You're most likely to find those at your local farmer's market.

Frozen Food 
Farmer's markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs are luring more and more customers in for fresh produce sales. But shoppers still need sustainably farmed veggies after the growing season has ended. Keep looking for the organic label, even if you're in the frozen fruit and vegetables aisle. Or: buy in bulk from a local organic farm during the growing season, and then preserve the harvest to enjoy later. 

Skin + Hair
Repeat: "Natural means nothing." This is generally true with food labels. And unfortunately, health and beauty products are even worse. Everything from soap and shampoo to shaving cream and nail polish may contain the word without any actual meaning behind it. And unlike the food industry, personal-care product makers can also use the term "organic" loosely. For truly organic personal care products, look for the actual USDA organic symbol on the product, not just "organic" in the product name.

Beef
Though it's more expensive, more and more people are buying organic steak and beef. The advantages are obvious: you don't have to deal with the possibility that you meat was injected with ammonia gas, food dye, or any of the other nasty substances the food industry typically uses. For more information on getting sustainable beef, read Your Guide to Buying Grass-Fed Beef.

Chicken
Industrial chicken production is causing many Americans to lose their appetites. As news reports of factory farms feeding their chickens food laced with chemicals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and even parts of other chickens grow more common, the U.S. public is shifting toward a more sustainable source. Pick local grass-fed chicken supplemented with organic grains. These are known as pastured birds, and in pastured operations, they often live in open-air, floorless pens where they can eat fresh grass and bugs all day. In well-run operations, the pens are moved to fresh grass several times a day. 

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