What Does Organic Really Mean?

This past weekend, while we ate our picnic on the couch Saturday night, I began randomly paging through the On Demand list for a good movie to watch and stumbled upon a documentary called,  In Organic We Trust.


I was intrigued by this film because I often hear assumptions that organic food is a bunch of BS or that it is extremely overpriced. Well, I can vouch for the latter as I spend most of my life’s earnings on organic food. Okay, not that much, but I do spend a good chunk of it on food and I choose to do this because it is something I am very passionate about.


You might be asking yourself what that means, what exactly am I passionate about? Eating healthy? Protecting the environment? Or following some fad that ‘only rich people are dumb enough to adhere to’?


Let me start by saying that, after my family (of course), my health is one of my top priorities. To be honest, I wasn’t always healthy and used to smoke cigarettes and eat McDonalds and Taco Bell on a regular basis.


Luckily, when I met Brandon (who was a non-smoker) it didn’t take long for me to realize that he wasn’t going to find my ashtray-scented perfume very sexy.


However, the biggest change came after I was accepted into a Sonography program and started to learn all about the human body and the horrible diseases that are capable of ever-so-kindly destroying our insides. You can literally see the destruction taking place inside of the body, and it ain’t pretty.


After spending hours working in hospitals and seeing people, both young and old, in their most vulnerable state, some spending their last hours hooked to tubes and machines, unable to feed themselves or even speak, I got a major wake up call.

Sure, some health problems are completely out of our control so why not go along with the mantra “everything causes cancer”?  Because, there are so many health problems (diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers) that are in our control and they are mainly a result of our lifestyle choices.

So, the question is, where does organic food fit into being healthy? What does organic even mean?

When referring to food that is produced organically, it means that the manufacturer or farmer is required to adhere to guidelines that are set by a certain certifying organization, the most well-known of these being the USDA.


I’m sure many of you have seen the USDA Organic Certification label on products throughout the grocery store which, unfortunately, is usually associated with a higher price tag.

In Organic We Trust (IOWT) dissects the mysteries of organic food and whether or not it really is a scam by researching the answers to some of the following questions:

1. Is everything that dons the organic label automatically considered healthy? No.

2. Is a bag of white flour or white sugar healthy because it is organic? No. Unhealthy foods are unhealthy whether they are organic or not.  Aren’t they produced with less chemicals, pesticides or additives? Yes, but it can still be something that is unhealthy or void of nutrition.

3. Does organic produce have more nutrients than a conventional produce? Maybe. There are conflicting studies on this topic, but farmer’s growing organic produce are limited to the use of pesticides that are naturally occurring, while conventional farming practices use synthetic pesticides that are linked to various health problems such as ADHD in children.

4. Does organic farming really help the environment? Yes. Organic farming allows for healthier soil that not only helps grow more nutrient-dense food but also supports a more sustainable foundation for the land.  Alternatively, pesticides used in conventional farming destroy the sustainability of the soil and also run off into our water sources, polluting our drinking water which has been linked to health issues.

If any of these questions touch on topics that interest you, then I highly recommend that you watch IOWT. It does an excellent job explaining the true meaning of organic food and the way it impacts our health and the environment. It also explores the role of the government in the organic certification process and the politics that exist behind the scenes.


Before watching this film, I felt like I already had a firm understanding of organic food and its relation to our health but I didn’t know much about the politics behind the process. IOWT opened my eyes to a few things and, actually, it kind of got me fired-up.

Personally, I find it extremely frustrating that the government doesn’t do something to support healthier food practices for our country. They are subsidizing the large corporate farms that are using toxic sprays, yet they make it more expensive for the smaller farmers, who are trying to work with mother nature to produce a healthier product, to get proper certification. Yet, somehow there is all of this controversy over our broken healthcare system. Maybe our healthcare wouldn’t cost as much if we made it easier for Americans to afford healthier food? Just a thought.

Ultimately, the decision to live a healthy lifestyle is up to each individual. Not all healthy food is expensive and there are different options for everyone.

Side note: If you are a smoker and say you can’t afford to eat “expensive” healthy food then quit smoking and see how much more money you have to spend. (This is aimed at my brother who makes fun of me for buying expensive organic food. He probably won’t read this though, ha! #siblinglove)

Even if you don’t buy-in to the whole organic food movement, the documentary points out that one of the best things we can do is support local farms by taking a weekly trip to your Farmer’s Market.


I really enjoy shopping in the fresh air and that they allow you to bring your kid, as long they’re on a leash.


We have to keep an eye on Coco, she really likes the fresh sourdough.


Another option they suggest is to plant some of your own produce at home. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can still grow a few things on a balcony.

We could definitely do better at this, but we currently have three heirloom tomato plants and two basil plants that we are trying not to kill.


Recently, the tomato plants started to outgrow the little clay pots we had them in (I also read that clay pots can dry out the soil) so we transplanted them to larger, plastic pots.


As always, Coco did her best to assist the process…


What’s really exciting is that the tomato plants are starting to show a few blooms! This makes me a little giddy…squeal!


It’s exciting stuff, I tell ya.

I am proud to say that I am an advocate for local and organic practices and will continue to support these causes whenever I have the opportunity.

I hope you will give IOWT a chance so that you can learn more about what organic food really is and form your own opinions on the matter. Or if you’re not in the mood for a movie, hopefully you will at least take a trip to the farmer’s market to meet your local farmers!


Other health/food related documentaries worth watching:


Do you support local or organic practices? Have you ever grown your own food?

Have you seen any good documentaries lately? Tell me about them!


**Disclaimer: I was not endorsed or compensated in any way by the makers of IOWT. This is simply a reflection of my own personal feelings and opinions.

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{ 35 comments… add one }

  • Dana June 13, 2013, 5:01 am

    This is interesting. I will have to check that documentary out!{ btw, your choices of food for your couch picnic looked incredible}! I’m a girl who needs my red meat here and there, and I certainly don’t always make the healthiest food choices, what with cans of frosting and pizza here and there. ;) But I seem to purchase more organic foods when I do food shop and yet I have never really thought to check out the cost of them. That’s probably because I don’t eat organic 100% of the time. But I do adore raw food, veggies and tons of fruit and have completely cut sugar out of my diet; at least 95% of it.

    It’s just funny how I never really put much thought into the foods I purchase, ( well, I obviously do, and 90% of the cart has been much healthier items) but I do read labels more and seem to automatically go right for the raw stuff/ organic aisles wihtout really thinking about it. As soon as I enter the store, that’s where I’m headed. Good read! Thanks for sharing!
    Dana recently posted…Sweet and Savory: A Little Like LifeMy Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:16 am

      We can’t be perfect all of the time but even small choices we make can have a huge impact down the road! :)

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes June 13, 2013, 5:45 am

    Thanks for this…I guess I never really knew what organic meant!! Or the difference between “organic” and “all natural” for that matter. I do go to our local Farmer’s market in the summer and buy my produce there!
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes recently posted…Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Cookie CupsMy Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:18 am

      Unfortunately, “all natural” can be put on anything, there are no regulations for that. That’s great that you go to your local Farmer’s Market- it can actually be a fun thing to do!

  • Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness June 13, 2013, 5:46 am

    Great post!! I love reading about food production in this country because I’m always shocked by how out of whack it is. It’s incredibly unhealthy, financially unfair and counter-intuitive. I’ll have to watch IOWT!
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Top 8 Signs You’re Already Addicted to Candy CrushMy Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:20 am

      I completely agree with you. It’s sad that so much of our food supply has come down to greed, not creating a better life for ourselves and the future of our children! I hope you get a chance to check it out, I think you’ll like it!

  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat June 13, 2013, 6:00 am

    This is a great post! It’s pretty scary that we can’t even trust what’s on the label. I need to watch this documentary. Thanks for the info!
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted…Things I’m Loving LatelyMy Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:21 am

      That is one of the important points that the film makes is that just because something is organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy which most people assume is the case.

  • Kathy @ Food Wine Thyme June 13, 2013, 6:01 am

    I really enjoy reading your blog and certainly was excited to see this post. I am a huge supporter of organic food and strongly believe in eating right. It is nice to see a movement amongst bloggers who share their support for local and organic foods as well as provide education to readers. I have not seen this documentary yet but will definitely be watching it. Thanks. :)
    Kathy @ Food Wine Thyme recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday # 17My Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:24 am

      Thank you so much Kathy! I’m lucky to have you as a reader and appreciate your support on this topic. It is always scary to think you might turn off people by sharing your own personal views but I feel so passionate about eating healthy and our food supply that I couldn’t help sharing. I hope you get a chance to watch it, I think you’ll really like it!

  • Natalie June 13, 2013, 6:15 am

    Such a great post! Def going to look out for the documentary.
    Natalie recently posted…Way Better Snacks Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles June 13, 2013, 7:19 am

    Great post! Unfortunately being a student means that the organic food price gets me every time, but I do buy it when I can. And I will definitely have to look into this documentary, it sounds interesting. I’m fortunate in that I have a year-round farmer’s market a few blocks away from me, so I do take advantage every weekend.
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted…Pineapple Chicken Stirfry and Why I Need Some DQ.My Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:25 am

      Cost is the hardest thing about supporting organic practices so hopefully this will be something that changes in the future. For now, going to the farmers market means a lot so it’s great that you do that much!

  • Sara @ Fit.Fun.Femme. June 13, 2013, 7:41 am

    You and I are two organic peas in a pod, sister! LOVE THIS POST! I, too, think it’s super important to know what you’re putting in your body and where it came from. Our food system is entirely screwed up and it’s so scary to see what is considered healthy at big box stores (I’m looking at you, Walmart!).
    Sara @ Fit.Fun.Femme. recently posted…From 13.1 to 26.2My Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:27 am

      Haha, that was too cute {two organic peas in a pod}! Yes, Walmart is notorious for supporting the large farms who are using these toxic chemicals to grow our food. But that’s what costs the least because those are the farms getting subsidies! It sucks.

  • Elizabeth June 13, 2013, 7:59 am

    I try to only buy organic when it comes to the foods that use the most pesticides, or are most likely to absorb them. To save some money, I buy conventionally grown “safer” produce items, such as those with thick peels that you don’t eat (bananas, pineapple). I have an iPhone app called Organic Diet Buddy that I pull up when I’m at the grocery store. It lists which foods are safe conventional, which are so-so, and which to only buy organic.
    Elizabeth recently posted…Summer Shish KababsMy Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:29 am

      The films goes over that as well which are the most important to avoid from a health standpoint. Sometimes you simply can’t find everything organic, even if you tried. That app sounds very helpful, thanks for sharing! :)

  • Becky @ Olives n Wine June 13, 2013, 8:57 am

    1. Love the photo of Coco taking a sniff of the bread ;) 2. Props to you for stopping smoking – That is an impressive feat! 3. LOVE THIS!! I was an environmental science major as an undergrad and minored in sustainable agriculture while obtaining my MBA so this shiz is totally my jam. You made really clear points that I hope will stick with everyone who reads this post!

    Organic for life! (That has multiple different meanings…) :)
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted…{Chocolate-Covered} Strawberry SmoothieMy Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:32 am

      It’s kind of crazy to think that I was once a smoker, it grosses me out so bad now! That is too cool that you studied so much on this topic in school! I would love to pick your brain over a big ol glass of wine…;)

  • Nicole @ FruitnFitness June 13, 2013, 9:54 am

    This is a great post! I don’t buy all organic produce as it really doesn’t fit my budget but I shop at the farmers market every weekend when I can. I think farmers market foods taste so much better than the conventionally grown produce I buy at the grocery store.
    Nicole @ FruitnFitness recently posted…groundhogs and cross fitMy Profile

    • Sarah June 13, 2013, 11:33 am

      I completely agree that it tastes better and it also feels better knowing it supports a local small business.

  • Sonia the Mexigarian June 13, 2013, 11:09 am

    Love that you got the clear basic point of the doc. I haven’t seen it yet, but you bet I will. I grow as much as my own produce that my little not so green thumb will allow. (My tomatoes aren’t doing so well for some reason) and keep clear of all pesticides. I love shopping at the local farmers markets and do try to keep to the organic stalls only.

    I smoked for several years as well and kicked the habit when I fully thought about my health and running. Now I can barely handle cigarette smoke. Vegas was rough in that sense. Ugh.
    Sonia the Mexigarian recently posted…Blend Retreat 2013My Profile

    • Sarah June 14, 2013, 7:21 am

      Great job quitting smoking! It’s so funny how gross it becomes after you stop. I don’t think I could handle the casinos in Vegas if they are all full of smoke!

  • Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl June 13, 2013, 11:11 am

    I am glad that you recommended Vegucated! That is a fantastic documentary!
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted…WIAW: June 12, 2013…and Tuesday, June 11, 2013!My Profile

  • Jan @ Sprouts n Squats June 13, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Great article, thanks for sharing! I will have to watch that documentary and the other ones you mentioned it is so interesting.
    Jan @ Sprouts n Squats recently posted…Friday Favourites #15My Profile

  • Taylor @ greens & chocolate June 13, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Great post!! I often think about if buying organic is really worth it and when it comes down to it, I think it is for some, maybe most, things. Especially produce and meat. I’m definitely checking that movie out…I think the best thing is just to be informed! Oh and I totally agree about working in health care – it makes me sick to see all of the illnesses people live with and how many of them are a pretty direct result of lifestyles.
    Taylor @ greens & chocolate recently posted…strawberry lime margaritasMy Profile

  • Daniel @ TickleMyTastebuds June 14, 2013, 7:11 am

    I’d have to agree with the take “In Organic We Trust” promotes; in that ‘organic’ foods have more so become a marketing ploy than anything which consumers can trust and know that they’re making a healthier choice in what they’re eating. I believe organic is home grown, community type food – not what major food companies are placing on the market and neglecting to mention the abundance of nasties they’re adding to prolong shelf life.

    In terms of documentaries, Food Inc and Gasland are both interesting; I’m sure you’d like them! On the business side of things; “Enron – The Smartest Guys in the Room” is incredibly informative and a great watch!

    • Sarah June 14, 2013, 7:17 am

      Thanks Daniel! I appreciate your perspective and the recommendations, I’ll be sure to look them up! :)

  • Tracey @ Cooking with Love June 15, 2013, 5:25 am

    I think organic is so important to buy. At least fruits and veggies on the dirty dozen list. I feel like it easier and cheaper to eat healthy than to have to deal with health issues later. When I became a nurse, I totally changed everything I ate. If everyone knew what some foods can do to your body, we would all be a lot healthier! Kudos to you for sharing this post! On another note, do you have Directv? You mentioned you watched the movie “On Demand”. Just curious as I have it and I am having trouble getting it to work. Do you know if you had to have a port opened in your modem and your router for the WiFi to work with Directv (if you have it)? Thanks!! :)

    • Tracey @ Cooking with Love June 15, 2013, 12:36 pm

      Got my Direct on demand to work!! Yay! Found the documentary as well! Thanks! :)

      • Sarah June 16, 2013, 9:03 am

        No, I don’t have DirectTV but I’m glad you found it on there! Hope you like it! :)

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl June 16, 2013, 6:08 pm

    Modern Farmer Magazine has a great article in the current issue about all the organic labels and what each one truly means. I was pretty shocked in terms of meat how what I thought was “fair” wasn’t that fair, I’m going to be reading the labels more carefully from now on.
    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl recently posted…Harvesting Beautiful BroccoliMy Profile

    • Sarah June 18, 2013, 8:36 am

      That sounds like an interesting article. Unfortunately, organic and free range don’t mean much when it comes to our meat and dairy. I always look for the Certified Humane label, it seems to hold some credibility. (Unless that article says otherwise :/)

  • Alley @ Alley's Recipe Book June 23, 2013, 8:09 am

    I need to see this documentary! Thanks for posting about it! I agree though. I actually prefer local over organic. There is so much red-tape in organic certification. If you are buying from a local farmer through a farmers market or CSA, the farmers feel more accountable for what they are selling to the end consumer and not just trying to increase yields.

    PS: The bigger the pot you put your tomatoes in, the bigger the roots can grow, the more tomatoes you’ll get! :) Also, don’t forget to “feed” them with *organic* fertilizer. I didn’t my first few years gardening and it has made a world of difference in yield!
    Alley @ Alley’s Recipe Book recently posted…Beet Ravioli – total time 2 hoursMy Profile

    • Sarah June 23, 2013, 8:38 pm

      Thanks for commenting Alley! It is so important to support local farmers, although, I have it pretty easy living in NorCal. I’m sure it can be harder for people living in other places.
      I am certainly a novice gardener so I greatly appreciate the tips! I bought organic fertilizer which I mixed in the bottom of the pot when I replanted them but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to put it on top when I feed them in the future or should I put it at the bottom? Also, how often do you feed them?


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