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Consider these factors when deciding whether to go organic:

1. Fruits and vegetables: When it comes to eating your daily quota of fruits and vegetables, it may be best to start at square one by simply focusing on increasing your daily intake. According to a 2010 report released by the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, only 6 percent of people are eating enough vegetables and only 8 percent are eating enough fruit each day.

2. Junk foods: When health is a priority, it’s important to keep in mind the type of food eaten, not just the farming or production method it undergoes.

Surveys continually report that consumers believe organic food – regardless of its ingredients – is nutritionally superior to conventional foods. Spending your money on low-nutrient organic junk foods, such as cookies, chips and sugary beverages, is not the best use of your organic dollars.

3. Dairy: Organic dairy farmers are prohibited from using antibiotics or synthetic hormones, including the artificial growth hormone rBST or rBGH, and cows must feed on organic pasture at least four months each year; organic pasture has been associated with higher omega-3 fatty acid content in milk, which has been linked to protection against heart disease and cognitive decline.

4. Meat: Animals used for the production of organic meat cannot receive synthetic hormones or antibiotics. The less-confined organic cows on organic farms are given space to roam freely, reducing their potential to contract disease, which also gives the meat a better fatty acid profile than animals living in confined spaces.

What is “Certified Organic”?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates the regulations behind any food with the “organic” label by using a third-party certification system. According to the USDA, organic foods support biologic diversity and ecological balance by fostering a system of recycling resources and nutrients into the soil. Organically labeled foods restrict the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), and prohibit the use of sewage sludge.

– Environmental Nutrition Newsletter