Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Going Organic

Organic ProducePerhaps it’s because I have children or maybe it’s the wide range of products now available, but I choose organics more often than ever. And I’m not alone. More and more organic products are available every year; the organic market has grown, on average, more than 20% per year over the last 7-10 years, making the fastest growing segment of agriculture.”

What are “organics”? Organic products are grown in environmentally friendly ways, without toxic or persistent agricultural chemicals. Organic agriculture is a production method that emphasizes the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality.

Seal of approval. Since 2002, all organic food products sold in the US are required to meet strict Federal standards managed by the USDA. These standards include:

  • Soil and plants cannot be treated with toxic chemicals or persistent pesticides
  • No toxic fertilizers or sewage sludge can be used to promote growth
  • GMOs are not allowed in the field or in processing
  • Animals are fed organic feeds, provided outdoor access and clean water, and their natural behaviors must be accommodated.
  • Synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics are forbidden in animal production

Opting for organic. Choosing organic food supports farmers and producers who believe in good health, quality foods and earth-friendly sustainable agricultural practices. Our friends at the Organic Trade Association put together these six simple reasons to reach for organics:

  1. OrganicOrganic products meet stringent standards.
  2. Organic production reduces health risks.
  3. Organic farms respect our water resources.
  4. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature.
  5. Organic producers are leaders in innovative research.
  6. Organic farming helps keep rural communities healthy.

Looking for choices? As the first national certified organic grocer in the US, Whole Foods Market® has organics in every aisle – from produce, pantry staples and artisan cheeses to meat and poultry, dairy and body care. You won’t find a bigger selection than at our stores.

Why do you choose organics? I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.


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Ashlyn says …

I recently watched the documentary "Food, Inc." as an assignment for a Social Ethics class in my MBA program. Seeing how mass-produced food is made completely changed how I view the food I eat. I have made a commitment to purchase only all-natural or organic products, including meat and dairy products. I am in grad school, so I'm on a budget, but to me, it's worth the small splurge to purchase organic food. It is better for my body, for the environment, and for the plants and animals that are used. I hope that more and more people come to realize how important it is to buy organic.

Elise Beron says …

I buy organic produce and humanely -raised meats with confidence at Whole Foods Market because I believe the standards by which this chain operates are those that are deemed very good for us, our environment and the earth's soils and waters. My friendly worker in the produce department lets me know whenever an organic product that I have been waiting for is available. In the fish deparment, I trust Phil to advise me, and in the meat section, I trust Kyle to help. My very frequent visits to Whole Foods are a pleasure because of these people. I am particularly appreciative of the humane treatment of animals; this is my main concern, having read some of the horrors of animal farming and food production.

Bernard L Wotton says …

I like the whole concept of organic and what it stands for. I've been 100% organic for the past 5 years. I'm 68, and cannot afford to get sick. I've been vegetarian since 1972. Eating good, whole foods, that are organic –label number begins with a 9– will keep the doctor away! I'm no longer putting man-made harmful chemicals into my body through food that I eat. I especially like the idea that organic can never be GMO. Although purple is my favorite color, I want to be 100% green as much as I can be –green friendly earth and lifestyle.

Mary Ellen says …

I have been a dedicated organic consumer for 6 years. Although I'm glad that these organic blogs are in the current WF issue, I'd like to take this opportunity to say to WF: GIVE US MORE ORGANICS! Consumers should understand that MOST of the meat sold at WF IS NOT ORGANIC. Educate yourself on the difference between "natural" and "organic"... Organic is a LEGAL definition/standard. Natural is a marketing term with NO legal definition and NO OVERSIGHT OR AUDITING. Although there is no legal definition of "natural", it has come to be a widely accepted term meaning "no antibiotics or growth hormones"... HOWEVER... the animals are still fed GMOs unless it is 100% grassfed AND grass-finished beef. (Nobody is going to use organic feed to produce the animal and then sell it at less than organic prices... so "natural" meat is not being fed organic feed, and conventional corn and soy is 85-94% GMO with the rest of the percentage difference being organic or conventional-non-GMO. However, the conventional-non-GMO gets mixed in with the GMO when processed. Therefore, if the feed is not certified organic, it is most certainly GMO). So the bottom line is stated above: if you don't want meat that ate GMOs, then buy certified organic or 100% grass fed AND finished. All that other meat in the case at WF ate GMO feed. An educated meat counter employee will admit that they do not have any program in place to prevent GMO feed. WF offers organic chicken and processed foods from Applegate like hot dogs, bacon, breakfast sausage. That's about it. I have NEVER seen organic, 100% grassfed and finished beef of any kind there. The grassfed beef (not certified organic) is very overpriced. I have had to start looking for local organic farms to buy meat from at farmers' markets because WF just is not supplying the variety of clean meat that I choose to eat. WF: please supply more organics (including 100% grassfed & finished) at reasonable prices! Bring back the organic ground turkey, too. I'm happy that I'm finding success in buying these items directly from farmers, but it would be nice to have the choice at the grocery store. The sooner WF customers start understanding that those high-priced natural meats ate GMO feed, the sooner they will start demanding more organic options.

Kidist Yilma says …

I love Wholefoods and always shop there. I have a question: on some products the USDA ORGANIC sign is green and on some it is black. Is there a difference between the two? Thank you, Kidist

Jan says …

What I do not understand about things being called organic is how can they be wrapped in plastic or in plastic bottles and still be called organic? ALL plastics are chemicals and not safe for humans.

Aimee says …

Ashlyn, I have to warn you. Unlike organic, "all-natural" has no official definition and has no real meaning. What you think you're getting may not be what you're actually getting. "Natural" food may have been grown with pesticides, made with GMO's, have chemical additives, and more. It sounds good, but companies aren't prohibited from putting the label on anything they feel like.

Ana says …

I only eat organic, unless at a restaurant. And even then I search for restaurants serving some organic food in Boston area. I just wished it was cheaper so more people could benefit from the benefits of organic food and not just those who can afford it. Perhaps the more people purchase, it may bring prices down.

Kim says …

Expanding on Ashlyn's comment... all very true. I want to add that we should be considering not only what pesticides and mass production do to our bodies and environment, but the planet as a whole, all the way to the oceans. Not to mention our own water supply and the pesticide-laden ground waters feeding into it. Which reminds me also of the "dirty dozen", (the list of foods you should never eat conventional) and the fruits and veggies they say are ok to eat conventionally because they have a peeling you can remove. Does anyone really think that once you peel a banana or an avocado that your are free and clear because the pesticides are applied externally? The plants are drinking water from the soil that has pesticide washed and soaked into it on a daily basis. How could it not affect them internally? Seems common sense, but until someone publishes a study otherwise or something of that nature, most decide there is nothing to be concerned about. We are killing ourselves and our planet and much of the world is oblivious to it. If we do not support and buy organic foods, they may someday not be available. The pesticide and GMO seed giants will see to it. Choose your food wisely and with this in mind.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KIDIST - I checked on the USDA website and they did not mention there was a difference in the color. Anything with either the green or black USDA seal must meet the same organic guidelines. I believe there are a couple of options so the vendor can choose the appropriate color to go on their packaging.

Catherine Davis says …

Coming from an agriculture perspective I don't necessarily agree with being organic. Here is a common misconception that needs to be fixed: Organic DOES NOT mean it is healthier for you! Another misconception: Farmers ARE NOT destroying the environment with their use of pesticides. As a farmer, you do not go and spray as many pesticides as you please. The farmers use pesticides in moderation and as directed and as needed. There are organic pesticides out there which are a great resource to use and yes (can be better for the environment), but please, do your research. In regards to the "Food, Inc." video, I have had to watch it several times for many of my classes. After watching it, I did my research along with also doing many projects. Many of the information is true, however, yet again another misconception: It is not all true! As farmers we DO NOT want to hurt our animals! Only someone with a angry heart would do that. Farmers are not evil people, but sometimes we tend to be hard headed because so many people read something online and believe it (without doing research). I'm not saying that you shouldn't eat organic food because some of it is healthier for you and can have several benefits. Keep in mind about buying local. Buying locally is a great way to support your community, it is often healthier for you due to the quality and freshness of the product, along with many other reasons. Contact your local extension office for more information! Also, know your guidelines and protocols regulated by the USDA and FDA. Example: USDA prohibits the use of hormones and anti-biotics in poultry and swine products. Don't be fooled by the labels!

wac5c says …

I have a small flock of chickens that I am learning how to raise. Your five step animal welfare list was helpful. I do have a question about feeding them organically. The only chicken feed I can find that's organic is around $80 for a 50# bag (and that doesn't include the shipping). With less than 1% of the cropland in the United States that's certified organic, how can I feed my chickens in a way that makes this more affordable. (Normal chicken feed is between $10 to $15 a bag in our area.)

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@WAC5C - We do not raise chickens from our company but we do seek our vendors that are just like you. I would suggest reaching out directly to a farmer who can give you advice based on organic feed. Best of luck!