Aldi bans neonicotinoids, goes organic, rivals Whole Foods as healthiest grocery store

Organic food has become very popular. But navigating the maze of organic food labels, benefits, and claims can be confusing. Is organic food really better for your mental and physical health? Do GMOs and pesticides cause cancer and other diseases? What do all the labels mean? This guide can help you make better choices about the real benefits of organic foods and how you can afford to incorporate more organic food into your diet.

What is organic food?

Organic food refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal-by-products.

The benefits of organic food

How your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts  and people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.

Organic food is often fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.

Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.

Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. Feeding livestock animal byproducts increases the risk of mad cow disease (BSE) and the use of antibiotics can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Organically-raised animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep them healthy.

Organic meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.

Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.

German owned Aldi announced, on January 1, that they will be removing eight pesticides from all US stores as soon as possible.

The pesticides are

  • Thiamethoxam
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Clothianidin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Deltamethrin
  • Fipronil
  • Imidacloprid
  • Sulfoxaflor

It is the first major grocery store in Europe to ban the pesticides found to be dangerous to bees, but it is going much further.

  • They are expanding their organic food brands, removing some artificial ingredients from products and adding more gluten-free items.
  • They have removed certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and MSG from their private-label products (which make up 90% of sales).
  • They have expanded their sales of fresh and organic meat and produce, including the “Never Any!” brand of meats that contain no added antibiotics, hormones, animal by-products or other additives.
  • The chain will also expand the SimplyNature line (which is free of more than 125 artificial ingredients) and their gluten-free liveGfree brand.
  • Their milk was free of artificial growth hormones, but now its yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, and other dairy products will be as well.
  • Lastly, they have begun to offer more high-end foods like artisanal cheeses, smoked salmon, quinoa, and coconut oil.

Aldi currently has 1,500 stores in the US and plans to open 500 more by 2018.

Because of the focus on health the company is poised to take over as the largest, healthiest grocery store chain in the world.

Business Insider,

“The grocery chain is expanding organic-food brands, removing some aritificial ingredients from its products, and adding more gluten-free items in hopes of attracting more health-conscious shoppers.”

Neonicotinoids are a relatively new type of insecticide, used in the last 20 years to control a variety of pests, especially sap-feeding insects, such as aphids on cereals, and root-feeding grubs. Neonics are systemic pesticides.

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