Going organic can do wonders for your body and the environment. It can save you from the detrimental effects of chemicals and pesticides, while encouraging sustainability and biodiversity.
However, transitioning to organic food and skincare is not as simple as it sounds; without the right information and insights, you can be easily swayed by deceptive marketing. So, to avoid getting scammed by these unscrupulous companies, here are five tips for going organic effectively.
1. Understand that organic doesn’t always mean healthy.
When food or skincare products are marketed as organic, it isn’t a complete guarantee that it’s pesticide-free. In fact, as much as 25 percent of organic foods in the U.S. have been found with traces of chemicals.
This can be mainly attributed to uncontrolled contamination, which can happen when wind blows pesticides and chemicals in the direction of organic crops, or when contaminated water seeps in from nearby farms.
Aside from this, the inspection process for foods sporting the organic label isn’t foolproof. Third party inspectors can perform audits by checking documents and interviewing farm owners and transporters, without really testing the produce or the soil used to grow them. Certificates can be forged and bought as well.
Be extra careful when buying organic products from other countries. Although imported foods usually comply with U.S. standards, examiners and certifiers rarely go overseas to verify foreign companies’ claims on their produce.
Also do your research before purchasing organic produce or organic skincare. Find out how these organic farmers and manufacturers protect their produce and materials from contamination; using contaminated products may not help you in getting rid of acne and other health issues.
Lastly, in the event of contamination, wash crops and food thoroughly to remove any pesticide residues present before consumption.
2. Learn to read labels.
Food companies can be very misleading with packaging. They use covers with natural and organic logos to convince their buyers of their authenticity. They may even fail to declare the real contents of their products.
Learn how to read labels and keep an eye out for ingredients that shouldn’t be in your products. If you see preservatives, chemicals, and ingredients you don’t really have any idea of, it’s best to return the product to the shelf. Some ingredients to avoid are fragrances, parabens, and GMOs.
Know that before a product gets an organic label, it must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. While you’re sure that 70 percent of an organic product is free from chemicals and preservatives, you should still be careful about the remaining 30 percent, and try to choose products with “100% organic” on their packaging whenever you can.
3. Start with small changes.
Going organic is not an overnight process. In fact, it’s more of a way of life.
You can start adjusting little by little and build on those simple changes. Try growing your own food and herbs in your garden, visiting a local organic farm to get your daily food supplies, or replacing your household items with organic ones. If you have a baby in the house, you can slowly replace his or her clothes, diapers, and beddings with ones made with organic material.
You can also make your own food. You can bake your own bread, make your own yogurt, or brew your own tea. These little things can sound small, but they can really help you with the transition.
Going slowly can help assure that the organic products and organic food you’ll be consuming in your new lifestyle are safe and healthy for you. If you rush the transition without enough research or preparations, you’ll only defeat your purpose of going organic.
4. Know the difference between ‘natural’ and ‘organic.’
Considering the price and complexity of choosing organic food and skincare products, it’s tempting to settle for natural food and skincare products instead. Unfortunately, however, natural foods aren’t as regulated as organic foods, meaning there’s no guarantee to their safety, or even their content.
The USDA even points out that ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ can’t be used interchangeably. Since there are no regulating bodies, companies and food manufacturers can easily use ‘natural’ in their labels even if their products contain a heavy amount of synthetic and processed ingredients.
Organic food, on the other hand, has a set of strict requirements. Before a food manufacturer can place an organic label in its products, it has to undergo testing and certification first. It needs to make sure that it doesn’t use any artificial colors and preservatives. It must also be free from synthetic growth hormones, pesticides, and irradiated ingredients.
But, which one is better?
No solid evidence proves that organic food is healthier than non-organic food. However, some researchers claim that eating organic can reduce a person’s exposure to heavy metals, while increasing intake of natural antioxidants. The natural food category, on the other hand, simply excludes excessively processed food items.
5. Set a budget.
It’s quite known that organic food is more expensive than non-organic food. One big reason is that these foods require more labor and time to produce. Organic farms also charge higher because they need to provide better living conditions for their livestock and crops.
If the cost of going organic seems daunting, setting simple rules helps reduce your expenses and maximize your budget. Planning exactly what items to get and where you’ll be buying your organic food can help cut your bill. Shopping local and buying in bulk also help you save money. Lastly, fruits and vegetables in-season are a lot cheaper than off-season produce, so buy seasonal.
As mentioned earlier, growing your own fruits and vegetables is always recommended. Begin with a small garden and work your way toward producing enough to meet your family’s needs. It doesn’t really matter if you have a big space or not. You can grow organic foods in pots and plant beddings, and can place them on your windowsill or balcony.
Why you should consider going organic
While going organic is good for you and the environment, take the process one step at a time. Working at a slower pace helps make the adjustment easier and more comfortable for you—mentally, physically, and financially. It can also help you stick with the changes better.
Be conscious of misleading information about going organic, and stay wary of companies that can lure you into using their otherwise non-organic products. Before following any instructional guides, or supporting a company that claims to be organic, make sure to do your research.
As you make the switch to organic, you’ll find that consciousness in these times is simply knowledge applied ethically, and in the name of sustainability.