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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Organic Eats: The Basics

- by Christina Frangione

When you walk into Sip Tea Lounge for the first time, you may hear a staff member proudly proclaim that everything is baked in our kitchen using local and organic ingredients whenever possible.  Some people are thrilled to hear that, while others may brush that information aside, unsure what’s so great about this buzzword “organic.” What makes organic food so special, and what does the word even mean?
Scones made fresh every morning at Sip!
“Organic” farming is nothing new and has been practiced since man first began cultivating the land.  The distinction between “organic” and “inorganic” did not have to be made until farming and food production involved practices so far from what early man did. Some people began to catch on that these practices were not healthy for humans, animals, or the environment as a whole and therefore had to define what “organic” should be.  Practices such as using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, ionizing radiation, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering to ward off disease or promote growth are not allowed for organic products in the United States.  Additionally, meat, dairy, and egg products must come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones (http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html).
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website, the organic label indicates a product that has been produced according to their guidelines which are intended to “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity” (http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop).

The USDA Organic Seal

What does organic mean for the consumer?  Will eating delicious treats such as scones, cinnamon buns, or pie made with organic ingredients help you lose weight, feel better, or save the polar bears?  Quite simply, just because something is labeled "organic" does not necessarily mean it is healthy.  Eating too many “organic” brownies can have some of the same effects on your body as eating too many non-organic brownies.  You may notice yourself physically feeling better eating organic, but it is not a miracle diet.  You will almost certainly feel better mentally, however, knowing that you have done a small thing to help both your own health, and the health of the environment.  Although the polar bears may not survive simply because of your choice to consume organic products, the collective efforts of those who choose to be conscious of these issues will continue to make a difference in the world. 

(Note: Sip Tea Lounge is not a certified organic facility, nor do we claim to be.)


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