Healthy Spring Feasts (And How to Shop Organic)

Pesticides and produce are unfortunately becoming a synonymous pair these days. To counter the GMO madness and encourage the happiest, healthiest you, we at the Purple Fig want to dole out some helpful grocery tips (as well as some delicious recipes!) just in time for Spring.

What Exactly Is “Organic”?

Organic has become a trendy “it” word around the nation, making its way into restaurant menus and getting more colorful signage along the produce aisle. But despite all of its recent publicity, the definition of “organic” is still fuzzy for some consumers:

Organic refers to a carbon-based method of farming, meaning the foods are grown with the exclusion of industry-standard practices like pesticides, genetically modified agents, hormones, and antibiotics. 

Any food can be made organically, including:

  • Fruits and vegetables (synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, sewage sludge, and other unsavory methods are rejected)
  • Meat products (livestock must be grass-fed)
  • Dairy (milk and cheese from livestock with 100% natural diets)
  • Eggs (chickens must be cage free and free-range, with a diet free of hormones)

Any food item, be it crop or animal, can be farmed organically. So long as farmers adhere to strict USDA quality requirements, their products can earn an organic seal of approval.

Why is Organic Important?

Many consumers have, understandably, labeled organic foods as “the more expensive option” for the same items. And they make a good point: why spend an extra dollar on a Red Delicious apple, if you can buy it cheaper otherwise?

Many commercially grown foods have made farming more of a factory-like process in an effort to generate as many crops as quickly and cheaply as possible. Sadly, this results in not only harmful effects on crops, but inhumane and unnatural treatment of animals. Here’s a small list of reasons why organic is a healthier and happier option:

  1. Organic means eating food free of hormones, chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, and pesticides, which have been linked with numerous health issues (including cancer).
  2. Organic foods are higher in nutrients than commercially grown crops.
  3. Organic foods are eco-friendly and animal friendly.
  4. Organic foods support local farming practices and fund independent farmers.
  5. Organic farms are safer for farm workers, who don’t have to handle pesticide-laden foods.

In short, it’s putting natural, chemical-free food into your body and supporting environmentally conscious farming! This is just a simplified list, however– for a more detailed list of reasons, click here and here.

Shopping Organic

So you’re standing in the aisle, staring at a gauntlet of fruits and vegetables and meats…but how do you know if they’re organic? And are some foods more likely to contain chemicals than others?

The EWG releases an annual list of the most (and least) chemically exposed produce on the market, called the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.

The USDA also puts their stamp of approval on all organic foods, to help you identify which is what. For multi-ingredient foods (like crackers, for instance), the USDA seal guarantees a product that contains 95% organic certified ingredients. For a label that states it “contains organic ingredients”, it’s the equivalent of being 70% organic.

To learn ways to eat organically on a budget, visit Food Babe here!

Easy Organic Spring Recipes

There are many foods in bloom this Spring, and so many ways to capture their flavory goodness! Check out these sweet and savory recipes:

For the Veggie Lover…

Spring Green Vegetable Stir Fry, Asparagus-Spinach Pesto with Shrimp, Springtime Farro Salad , Grilled Peaches with Rosemary & Balsamic Vinegar,  Avocado, Strawberry & Goat Cheese Sandwich

For the Meat Eater…

Spiral-Sliced Ham with Green Apple Chutney, Southwestern Salmon Cobb Salad, Simple Roast Chicken, Steak Salad with Lemon-Walnut Vinaigrette,  Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas & Spring Herbs