NUTRITION GAL What Should I Buy? Conventional, Natural or Organic?

By   |   January 25, 2011   |   Fitness

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Nutrition Gal tells you how to handle the grocery store!

The simple act of grocery shopping is getting more and more complicated. If you stroll down the aisles of just about any grocery store, you’ll see that there are three types of groceries: conventional, all-natural (or ΓÇ£naturalΓÇ¥) and organic. There is so much confusion about this topic, Nutrition Gal figured she would solve some of the mystery so you can decide what is best for you — and your budget!

ΓÇó Conventional: Conventional products are the usual products you see in the stores. Conventional farming of produce allows the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, and conventional farming of animals (meat and poultry) allows the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and medications. These products are typically the least expensive.

ΓÇó All-Natural or Natural: ΓÇ£All-naturalΓÇ¥ implies that the food does not contain preservatives and is less processed than its non-natural counterparts. These foods are not necessarily made without pesticides, nor are they ΓÇ£cruelty-free.ΓÇ¥ It is important to note that products marked ΓÇ£all-naturalΓÇ¥ or ΓÇ£naturalΓÇ¥ are not legally standardized. All-natural products are typically more expensive than conventional products, but less expensive than organic products.

ΓÇó Organic: Organic farming of produce applies natural fertilizers such as manure or compost, and no insecticides or herbicides, to the plants. Organic animal farming gives animals organic feed and allows them to access to the outdoors. The animals are also given clean housing and a balanced diet to minimize disease. Products certified 95 percent or more organic can use the USDA organic seal. Organic products are usually the most expensive.

So now that we have deciphered what the labels truly mean, how do you determine what to buy? Here are a few of my tips:

1. Produce: Not all conventional produce is ΓÇ£bad.” In fact, there are some fruits and vegetables that you can buy conventionally that tend to have less pesticides. Print out this ΓÇ£Clean 15/Dirty DozenΓÇ¥ list and use it the next time you shop to save some cash.

2. Meats/Poultry: This is really a matter of preference; however, my recommendation is to buy meats that are organic, or at the least labeled ΓÇ£grass-fedΓÇ¥ or ΓÇ£free-range.” After all, who wants to eat growth hormones and antibiotics in their meat?

3. General Grocery Items: Here’s where you really can have a little wiggle room. Essentially, you want to look for foods that are minimally-processed and not necessarily just ΓÇ£all-naturalΓÇ¥ or ΓÇ£organic.” The quick way to tell is to take a look at the ingredients. Are there a bunch of things you have never heard of or canΓÇÖt pronounce? ItΓÇÖs probably best to stay away from these items no matter what they claim to be. In this case, less is always more!

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