Once found only in health food stores and at farmers’ markets, organic is now a regular feature alongside conventional food at Kroger stores. Which should you choose? We break down some of the facts to help you shop.

What Is Organic?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.

When it comes to processed multi-ingredient foods, the USDA Organic standards specify additional considerations. Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, and require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions. For example, processed organic foods may contain some approved nonagricultural ingredients, like enzymes in yogurt, pectin in fruit jams or baking soda in baked goods.

When packaged products indicate they are “made with organic [specific ingredient or food group],” this means they contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients.

Why Eat Organic?

First, organic produce contains fewer pesticides that can leave residue on (and in) the food we eat. Organic foods often taste fresher, too, because they are free of preservatives that make them last longer.

Some studies have shown a small to moderate increase of nutrients in organic produce, such as flavonoids with antioxidant properties, according to the Mayo Clinic. The reason: In the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants boost their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants) that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds.

Eating organic is also good for the environment. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic farming reduces pollutants in groundwater and creates richer soil that aids plant growth while reducing erosion. It also decreases pesticides that can end up in drinking water.

Organic Every Day

Discover how Kroger is celebrating eating organic. Find ideas and $100 in coupons at organicseveryday.com from July 9–26.

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