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The Basics of Organic

The Basics of Organic

The information in this post was provided courtesy of Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek. Interested in learning more about wellness and nutrition from Melanie? Join Heinen’s Club Fx for weekly wellness tips, healthy recipes and the opportunity for one-on-one wellness consulting. 

What does it really mean when a food is labeled “organic?” Does it automatically equate to healthy? After all, chocolate chip cookies can be organic, but they are far from a superfood! That’s why it’s important to understand the basics of organic.

What is Organic Food?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, foods can be labeled ‘USDA Organic’ if they are grown and processed according to federal guidelines around soil quality, animal raising practices, pesticide and weed control and use of additives. The use of genetic engineering or GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is also prohibited in organic products.

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be organic across different food categories:

  • Organic produce must be grown on soil that contains zero prohibited synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for three years prior to harvest.
  • Organic meats require animals to be raised in the most natural conditions. For example, the ability for cows to graze on pasture is considered a natural condition. Animals must also consume 100% organic feed not receive any hormones or antibiotics. This is important because the use of antibiotics in conventional animal production is a key driver of antibiotic resistance in humans.
  • Organic packaged foods must not contain artificial colors, preservatives or flavors and all ingredients must be organic (with a few exceptions). Be weary of the label though, as a product labeled “made with organic ingredients” does not mean it is 100% organic, rather it contains at least 70% organically-produced ingredients.

Heinen's Organic Grass Fed Beef Delmonico Steak

Are there Health Benefits of Choosing Organic over Conventional Food?

Evidence suggests that organic food is more nutritious across the board. For example, organic fruits and vegetables have higher phenolic compounds, which are beneficial chemicals produced by plants that can help lower the risk of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In terms of animal products, organic feeding regimens and access to pasture cause organic milk, eggs and meats to contain significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than their conventional counterparts. This is important because omega-3 fats are known to lower disease-causing inflammatory markers in the body.

Free Grazing Cattle

Economical Ways to Add Organic Food to your Meals

As a Heinen’s shopper, you have access to an abundance of affordable organic produce, meat, dairy and packaged products.

  • Many of Heinen’s private label foods are available in organic varieties. From Heinen’s organic canned beans and spaghetti sauce, to frozen fruit and milk, you can whip up a nutritious meal in no time!
  • Heinen’s Produce Department houses over 150 varieties of fresh, USDA certified organic produce.
  • Our Meat Department offers organic chicken, turkey and 100% organic grass-fed beef.

At the end of the day, I view organic as a vehicle for upgrading my food choices, however not all foods in my cart bear the organic seal. Personally, I opt for organic milk, meat, eggs and certain produce like spinach and apples. You can do the same! Pick one or two staples on your grocery list to buy organic, and don’t forget to watch out for the incredible sales!

“Organic” Goes Beyond Food.

Here are some of our favorite Organic Health & Beauty picks:

Acure Organic Moroccan Argan Oil
A true skin superfood! Moroccan Argan Oil is incredibly rich in Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and proteins. Argan Oil helps restore the appearance, texture and tone of your skin – it’s no wonder that it’s referred to as “liquid gold.” Acure’s Organic Moroccan Argan Oil is 100% organic, pure and cold pressed and suitable for all skin types. This oil can be used as a hair serum as well.

Dr. Bronner Hand Sanitizers and Lotions
Whether you have dry, oily or combination skin, Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizers and lotions are perfect for sterilizing and nourishing. With pleasant aromas, these clean body care products can help maintain health and stimulate focus and relaxation.  Available in organic lavender and organic peppermint hand sanitizers and organic peppermint and organic lavender coconut lotions.

Aura Cacia Aromatherapy Shower Tablets
Now you can enjoy the luxurious aromatic escape of a bath with the convenience of a shower! These unique effervescent tablets contain 100% pure essential oils and no synthetic colors or fragrances. Take it from me, this little gem of a product will prove to purify your mind, body and spirit. Available in Calming Lavender, Clarifying Eucalyptus and Invigorating Peppermint.

Morning Song Gardens Sore Muscle & Joint Rub
Soothing and relaxing, this locally made, all-natural rub is perfect for aiding stiff joints, sprains and a myriad of pains with the added benefit of soft and supple skin. Raw Ohio beeswax combined with arnica, St. John’s Wort, rosehip and candula helps soothe muscles, joints and injuries.

Axel Mie, et al. “Human Health Implications of Organic Food and Organic Agriculture: a Comprehensive Review.” Environmental Health, BioMed Central, 27 Oct. 2017,

Melanie Jatsek RD, LD

By Melanie Jatsek RD, LD

Heinen's Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek, RD, LD believes that the answer to a strong, healthy and vibrant body lies within. As a published author with over 20 years of experience in wellness program development, health coaching and professional speaking, Melanie offers expert guidance through Heinen's Club Fx program to help customers take inspired action to build the healthy body they were meant to live in without giving up their favorite foods.

Recent Reviews

  1. I greatly appreciate the organic foods you offer, and the high quality of your produce.

    Part of keeping us all healthy on this earth is to reduce the use of plastics as much as possible.
    Thank you for providing shopping bags for purchase at your stores, and for your new program of submitting names of those using non-plastic bags for monthly prize drawings.

    I DO ASK THAT YOU PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE try to provide more produce ( greens, mushrooms, etc) that are NOT in plastic containers!! Now that these types of containers are no longer recyclable I have stopped buying produce that comes in plastic. Please put pressure on companies to find alternative ways of packaging /sending produce. The earth is drowning in plastics, which are toxic to living creatures, including people.

    1. Hi Kathy- Thank you for sharing this positive feedback with us as well as your suggestion for the packaging of our produce. We are always looking for ways to meet our customers’ needs as it relates to environmental sustainability, so we will be sure to pass your words along to the appropriate parties here at Heinen’s. Thank you for shopping with us.

    1. Hi Grace- Thank you for your question. When a product is labeled “Certified 100% Organic” it means that the producer went through the auditing and certification process to ensure that all of the ingredients in a particular product have been grown, raised or produced in alignment with the USDA’s organic standards. Thank you for your interest. An item labeled organic can still meet all of these standards, it simply may not have gone through the outside certification process. Thanks for your interest.

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