It's important to understand the role of the FDA. The FDA regulates foods drugs and cosmetics. Drugs must prove they are safe and effective. Foods must be on a list of products generally regarded as safe. If a product contains only ingredients from that list, it does not need approval.
While drugs are very strictly monitored for quality control, foods are not. Each Extra Strength Tylenol will have 500mg of Tylenol, but a 5lb bag of apples is not likely to be exactly 5 lbs.
Why Buy organic?
What exactly is a GMO and how does that affect me?
GMO’s are mostly engineered to resist roundup. In other words, so farmers can carelessly spray herbicide right onto your food and still have a plant come harvest time. Corn and cotton are also specifically genetically engineered to produce their own pesticide, the Bt toxin, which destroys the intestinal tract of the caterpillar that eats them.
Since GMO’s are regulated as a food they only have to be “generally regarded as safe.” The makers of GMO corn, for example, had to prove that it was corn, by showing equivalency, all safety studies were done by Monsanto, the company that profits from this product, and the standard for safety is fairly low compared to the safety standard for a drug. The studies were done without roundup, limiting the real world usefulness of the information. There have been no long term studies done on the safety of GMO’s except the one in which we are all participating right now, like it or not. GMO manufacturers have spent billions to oppose laws that would require labeling of their products. The FDA regulates the food aspect and the EPA actually decides if the pesticide producing foods are safe for human consumption. You can read the EPA report on Starlink GMO corn here. That would be the competition for Monsanto. Their product was denied approval.
Why does this matter. It matters because I choose to eat foods that don't contain ingredients designed to destroy the intestinal tract of a living creature. I get heartburn and I can't imagine this is a good idea for me. I want to see studies done by a 3rd party. I don't like the unethical business practices of suing organic farmers for patent infringement because they are downwind of a product that pollinates through the air. I have a choice where to spend my money but billions of dollars have been spent lobbying to deny me the right to know what's in my food. It's not that hard to say "corn" vs "MON#corn" on a label. You have to look for nonGMO project certification on high risk foods.
Don't All cows eat grass?
Most of the time in the feed house the cows are given steroids . Steroids make you fat, they make cows fat too. Steroids are not good for the immune system so the animal must be fed antibiotics to prevent illness since they’re in close quarters with other animals on steroids.
There is usually a washout period after this where the animal is not fed steroids or antibiotics. Most meat says free of antibiotics and hormones because they are undetectable in the meat at that point. However the health risk to you is the extra fat. In addition, antibiotics in farm animals is linked to the emergence of the superbugs, or mulit-drug resistant infections. I also just don't like the dishonesty factor of saying "steroid free" when you did in fact feed the animal steroids. What you are looking for is 100% grass fed from birth to market and you need to ask that specifically. Say grass fed and you'll always get a yes because all cows eat grass for period of time.
I have found the only way to be sure is to go to a farm. My most recent purchase of 1/7th of a cow was the best beef I ever had in my life. The flavor is amazing and the meat is tender. You do have to be very careful not to burn this meat, as the lower fat content does make it less forgiving. Marinating helps.
According to myfitnesspal the difference in a 3oz T bone steak is 50 calories and 5 fewer grams of fat. Since, on average a steak would actually be closer to 6oz, that is a savings of 10 grams of fat and 100 calories without even changing the menu. This is one way I enjoy my food even more while cutting calories. I just buy better quality food. You can also find, if you look hard enough, pasture raised chickens, pork, and lamb.
The Incredible Edible Egg
The only way I have found to get these eggs is direct from a farm or farm stand. I have purchased free range eggs or eggs claiming to be from outdoor chickens only to crack them and find that pale yellow yolk. Food manufacturers unfortunately do lie.
Chickens eat bugs, Chickens therefore are not naturally vegetarians, so "vegetarian fed" can be a red flag that they don't go outside. I look for "not fed animal byproducts"
Cage free means they are not raised in tiny inhumane cages. It does not mean they go outside.
Free range means they get to run around inside a barn. The barn may or may not be overcrowded. Again it doesn't mean they can go outside. Cruelty free isn’t a term regulated by the FDA. Hormones aren't used in poultry so "hormone free" is an absurd claim. Much like saying sugar is fat free. If you're going to consume eggs, why not eat eggs that have more nutrition. The calories are roughly the same, but the nutrition and flavor is different.