It was recently suggested to me that I would benefit from eating organic foods as opposed to conventional in order to avoid pesticides and other toxins.
I've never been an afficionado of organic foods, but I've heard many people say that not all foods labeled "organic" are necessarily free of the chemicals we would like them to be free of.
I'm particularly interested in meats, vegetables, and rice (though that's a bit outside the scope of this site since it's not paleo).
What are the guidelines for selecting the best foods from what is labeled "organic".
In general, I find the term "organic" totally meaningless. It's one of those things that's been co-opted by the government and over regulated to death (current example, the FDA can't even define gluten-free: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/3-years-after-deadline-fda-still-hasnt-defined-gluten-free/2011/04/22/AFRq6i8E_story.html?hpid=z3)
I know Whole Foods gets a bad rep sometimes, especially for how expensive it is, but they actually go out an look at farms and make recommendations. There are some small farms that can't pay for the "organic" label but they actually have "better-than-organic" practices, and Whole Foods recognizes that. I'd say stop by your local Whole Foods (if you have one) and go speak to the customer service desk, I bet they'll tell you more than you want to know.
Don't buy your meat from a grocery store if you cant help it. Very, very rarely will you find grass-fed meats there. Organic meat does NOT mean good meat, it simply implies no hormones, antibiotics, or GMO feed was used. Meat can meet organic standards and still be extremely unhealthy. Go to eatwild.com or other grass-fed farm locators to find a farm near you that will sell you quality meat.
Same BS with the organic label and produce. It's easiest to go to a local farm or farmer's market where you can speak directly with the producer about their growing methods. Getting an organic certification costs money, and some small farms that produce fantastic crops can't afford the label. That says nothing of the quality of their food. The buzz words you need to use when asking the farmers are "chemical free" or "spray free". If the farmer says his crops are both, then it implies he didn't use synthetic pesticides, nor did he use artificial fertilizer. You can still get produce from groceries or co-ops, just be cognizant of where it came from or how it was grown. An unbelievable amount of GMO transgenes have "blown in" to "organic" fields from conventional fields and mutated the plants' genomes. This seems nitpicky, but it matters to some, and the effects of this on human health are mostly unknown at the moment. Seek out "heirloom" produce to minimize this crossover. Again, this is most easily sourced from farmer's markets.
Buy grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, or pastured pork from a local farmer. Make sure that the beef is also grass-finished. You can often negotiate bulk deals or buy a side of beef to cut down on the cost.
Buy heirloom, chemical and spray-free produce from a local farm or farmer's market. If that doesn't sound fun, buy organic from a store, but ask the produce manager where they source their food from.
First you should know how the Organic foods are labelled so that you can select Organic food article of your choice.The regulations require that products labeled: 1.“100 percent organic” contain only organic ingredients. 2. “Organic” contain at least 95 percent organic materials. Products in this or the first category can (but are not required to) display the USDA Organic seal. 3. “Made with organic ingredients” contain 70-95 percent organic ingredients and may list up to three of them. Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients may not use the term organic other than to list specific organic ingredients. To know more about the Organic foods nutritional qualities and to know all about how to select Organic foods log on to http://www.foodadulterationinfo.com/
Whole 9 has a list of veggies to eat that are marked "dirty" or "clean" based on which ones are produced with the most pesticides and that you should try to buy organic most of the time. It's also organized by season, which is helpful! http://whole9life.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/whole9-produce-guide.pdf