The organic trap: organic junk food is still junk food

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The organic trap is easy to fall into.

You start learning about the dangers of the modern food system and many of the foods you enjoy, and you see a simple solution: just buy organic!

It’s like a magnificent food-fairy waved her sparkly wand over a bag of sour cream and onion chips, giving it a special seal and taking out all of the bad stuff, magically making it delicious and nutritious!

Nope, it’s still just a bag of sour cream and onion chips.

Organic junk food is still junk food

Nowadays you can buy an organic version of just about anything: toaster pastries, mini cheese-cracker-sandwiches, hot-dogs – you name it.

“‘Organic’ is on so many food packages of highly processed foods. I find that people see ‘organic’ on a food label and it doesn’t seem to matter what the actual food is; they think it is healthful.” – Andrea Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D., dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

But just because a food is organic does not mean it is automatically healthy. The bottom-line: processed is processed, and junk food is junk food, regardless of whether or not the packaging touts an “organic” label.

In order for a food to be certified “organic,” it (for whole foods) or its ingredients (for processed foods) must be produced in by organic farming methods. This is fantastic for both the environment and us as consumers, particularly in regards to whole organic foods such as produce, nuts, and grains. But if you see “organic” on the food label of organic cookies, it simply means that the ingredients – including those that you should really avoid or consume in moderation such as refined sugar, refined wheat, soy, and vegetable oils – are produced organically. It does not mean that these cookies are nutritionally superior compared their non-organic counterparts. In fact, they likely have an extremely similar, if not the same, nutritional profile.

This is certainly not the case for all organic processed foods on the market. And if purchasing processed foods, it is wise to purchase organic since many of the most abundant ingredients – corn and soy, for example – are typically GMO in conventional products, and they can also contain some funky additives. But, do so with the understanding that simply replacing a diet high in processed foods with a diet high in organic processed foods will not necessarily lead to improved health.

Spend your money wisely!

We all have a grocery budget. Some have bigger budgets, but most of us have a tighter budget. And, yes, organic food is typically more expensive. So make how you spend your money really count! As an organic consumer, the most effective way – both monetarily and health-wise – to spend your money is on whole organic foods such as fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and nuts, dairy and meats. These foods are nutrient dense and do not contain any additives, unhealthy oils, or refined sugar or salt.

If purchasing processed foods, try to purchase foods with the shortest ingredient labels and ingredients that you recognize.

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  1. What do organic junk food and unprocessed junk food have in common? They’re both junk food!