The quest for natural foods has revolutionized the way people shop, eat and live. But are there real benefits to organic food and natural foods? Discover the new world of organic food and natural foods here.
Before any food item can honestly call itself organic food, it has to meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- only then can it wear the coveted green and white USDA Organic label. But is organic food worth the cost?
The slightly higher price of organic food scares some consumers away. For consumers who are as budget-conscious as they are eco-conscious, the Environmental Working Group has developed a "Dirty Dozen" list of 12 foods that are best to buy organic, as well as a "Clean 15" list of foods that are usually fine to buy as regular produce.
Organic produce are grown under the watchful eye of the USDA organic program. But what makes organic fruit different, and are organic vegetables safer or healthier to eat?
Regardless of which came first -- the chicken or the egg -- you can bet the first one was organic, raised outdoors without added drugs or chemicals. And as more people discover the health and environmental benefits of organic eggs that are raised without the heavy use of chemicals, drugs and factory-like settings of regular eggs.
Talking about free-range chicken might bring to mind a quaint old farm with hens and turkeys strutting around a tree-shaded barnyard. But think again: the realities of industrial poultry production are very different.
Organic beef that carries the "USDA Organic" label has been raised and processed in a way that meets strict guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA conducts inspections to verify that several important criteria have been met before the beef can be called USDA-certified organic meat.
Grass-fed beef comes from cattle raised in grass pastures, as the name implies. Grass-fed beef is healthier to eat because it's lower in saturated fat and higher in nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Many claim the meat also has a superior taste to grain-fed beef.
Organic coffee avoids the intensive use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that are common in the commercial coffee industry. According to researchers, industrial coffee plantations require immense amounts of chemicals, in part because these growers have destroyed the rain forest canopy.
Organic wines don't enjoy the same reputation as vintage wines -- at least not yet. But as more wineries respond to consumer demand for high-quality organic wines that can hold their own against the finest gold-medal vintages, organic wines have gone from being a niche product to a real player in the wine marketplace.
Beer is proof, Benjamin Franklin said, that God loves us and wants us to be happy. And many beer makers are now brewing natural beer and organic beer in the belief that they will not only make us happy, but make the planet happy, too.
Organic chocolate and fair trade chocolate are two fast-growing segments of the candy market. But is organic chocolate really sweeter, and how fair is fair trade chocolate?