My cereal is organic. That’s good, right?
Packaged goods are tricky, too. These foods can be billed as either “100% organic,” which means what it looks like, or simply “organic,” which means at least 95% of the product consists of organic ingredients.
This is a big umbrella, since packaged foods can range from burritos to sausage to cake mix. There are long lists of what they can’t include, like artificial preservatives, which is a big deal for certain meaty products, says Lunder. “People are definitely worried about sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate, which are added as meat preservatives to keep meat looking red,” she says. “There are concerns that those can cause cancer.”
Those preservatives are frequently found in bacon, sausage, and other premade meat products. Organic is definitely the way to go with that stuff, too. But if you’re making a tough economic choice between organic and conventional packaged goods that don’t contain meat, you can probably get away with conventional.
Gah! This is so much to remember!
It’s easy to get fed up with organic certification because it’s confusing, and expensive, and seems to require a lot of research. But it’s actually not as daunting as it appears when you’re first starting to wonder about this stuff. EWG’s apps are good and easy to follow, and eventually you start to get kind of a feel of what might be a problem. Eggs? Always go organic. Meats? Yep. Potatoes and onions? Well, maybe not.
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Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer who always, sometimes, buys organic. Follow him: @dannosowitz.