Organic junk food

Some junk food is found to be organic.

In today’s world, the push to make healthier food choices and increase physical activity is heavily promoted at the local level as well as the national level. Promoted by Michigan State University Extension, the new Choose MyPlate program focuses on healthy food choices as well as physical activity. Although conventional whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, meat and nuts are full of nutrients when they are consumed with little processing, there is thought that organic foods are healthier.

Organic foods can be found in natural food stores and grocery stores almost everywhere. Organic foods are usually more expensive than conventional foods that do not present the USDA organic symbol on the package or display stand. Research from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) concluded that organic foods are no more nutritious than conventionally produced foods. There was no significant difference in nutrients but the organic foods were lower in pesticide levels and for meat, there were no antibiotics used.

When thinking of organic foods, whole foods such fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, dairy products, nuts and seeds come to mind. But the list does not stop there. Stores are widening their organic food choices to include more processed foods such as organic jelly beans, potato chips and cookies. This does not mean that these foods are healthier. A food package labeled “organic” just means that the ingredients within the food product such as sugar, flour, butter and chocolate were cultivated using a certified organic process. It does not mean that the ingredients are any healthier in an organic cookie than the ingredients in a conventional cookie.

Reading food labels is an important part of making healthy food choices. The labels can help you to decide if the food is worth the extra cost. The nutrition facts label and ingredients list are located on the back or side panel of the food package. Compare calories, fat and sugar as well as the other listed nutrients. If the top four ingredients list highly refined foods such as flour and sugar, it is probably a highly processed food. Organic foods can be made with processed ingredients.

If you enjoy organic foods, look towards the whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts. They are more expensive than conventional whole foods but are still rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals. Choose foods that are as close to the garden or field as you can get without actually being there.

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