Organic food is alive and well. In fact, shoppers are expanding their organic intentions beyond the produce aisle. Take red meat, for instance. As news reports of recalls and ammonia injected into factory-farmed meat spread, sales of organic beef jumped nearly 50 percent in 2011. Opting for organic non-food items is becoming the norm, too, with many reaching for organic-slanted soaps and shampoos, as well. Interestingly, new data finds that people under 40 are the biggest supporters of organic, regardless of the paycheck they bring in.
Now that you've got the routine of eating fresh organic fruits and veggies down pat, try adding these other must-have organic items to your shopping cart.
Standard ice cream usually comes from cows fed a steady (and unnatural) diet of genetically engineered corn, soy, and even antibiotics and hormones linked to certain cancers. Organic dairies ban all of these, and their cows are required to eat a more natural diet featuring organic grasses and hay. This, in turn, creates milk higher in a heart-protecting fat called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA.
Sales of organic ice cream in 2011 were up a whopping 44 percent over the previous year's numbers, according to organic product research figures compiled by TABS group, a data-analysis firm that follows consumer product trends.
OG Pick: Stonyfield After Dark Chocolate
Eggs from Happier Hens
Did you know that more than 90 percent of the eggs produced in this country come from hens crammed into tiny cages and given feed loaded with antibiotics? Consumers are getting the message, and they don't agree. According to TABS data, sales of organic eggs jumped 21 percent in 2011, compared to 2010 sales.
Organic eggs in the supermarket likely come from an indoor operation that feeds organic only and allows the birds to wander about and perform natural behaviors. Birds raised outside on pasture produce nutritionally superior eggs, though, so their eggs are your best bet.
OG Pick: Your local pastured-egg producer—visit LocalHarvest.org to find a local farmer that raises pastured hens supplemented with organic feed.
Pesticide-Free in the Frozen Food Aisle
Farmer's markets and buy-direct-from-a-farmer systems, such as community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, are luring more and more customers in for fresh produce sales. But shoppers want to stick with the sustainable farming theme year-round now, too, even opting for organic in the frozen fruit and vegetables aisle.
OG Pick: The gold standard? Buy in bulk from a local organic farm during the growing season, and then preserve the harvest to enjoy later. If that's not possible, Cascadian Farms offers organic frozen vegetables nationwide. (The company is owned by General Mills, and thus industrial-food supported, so shop from your local organic farmer whenever possible.)
Sustainable Nurtured Skin & Hair
Repeat after us: "Natural means nothing." This is generally true with food labels and claims made on everything from your soap and shampoo to your shaving cream and nail polish. Unlike the food industry, though, personal-care product makers can use the term "organic" loosely. For truly organic personal care products, look for the actual USDA organic symbol on the product, not just "organic" in the product name.
OG Picks: Try Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild or peppermint organic soap for bathing, hand-washing, and even shampooing to get started. To find out how your current products rate and find safer, truly organic versions, visit Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
Truly Natural Meat
Organic beef sales are up nearly 50 percent compared to 2010 sales. Choosing this type of meat means customers don't have to deal with the possibility that their meat was injected with ammonia gas, food dye, or any of the other nasty substances the food industry typically uses.
OG Pick: At the supermarket, look for the USDA Organic label—not wording like "natural"—to find meat free of pharmaceuticals and other contaminants. For more information on getting sustainable beef, read Your Guide to Buying Grass-Fed Beef.
Along with produce, milk is a priority organic product for many consumers. Sometimes referred to as the gateway into organics, many parents line the fridge with organic milk to avoid exposing their family to cancer-causing, genetically engineered growth hormones used in some conventional dairy operations. In 2011, organic milk sales grew 25 percent over 2010 levels, meaning the industry is alive and well…to help keep you well.
OG Pick: Organic Valley milk; it's farmer owned!
Chickens That Don't Eat Chicken
Industrial chicken production is causing many Americans to lose their appetites. Last year, organic chicken saw a nearly 20 percent increase in sales. As news reports of factory farms feeding their chickens food laced with chemicals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and even parts of other chickens grow more common, the U.S. public is shifting toward a more sustainable source.
OG Pick: Local grass-fed chicken supplemented with organic grains. These are known as pastured birds, and in pastured operations, they often live in open-air, floorless pens where they can eat fresh grass and bugs all day. In well-run operations, the pens are moved to fresh grass several times a day. Visit LocalHarvest.org to find this type of chicken in your area.