A natural choice

Meredith Compton

Conservation major Elizabeth Ryan orders groceries while on shift at the Kent Natural Foods Co-op yesterday.

Laura Torchia | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Expeller-pressed high oleic sunflower oil. Organic evaporated cane juice. Organic amaranth flour.

Just when health-conscious consumers thought they were getting the hang of nutrition labels, a line of products came out to befuddle even the most ingredient-savvy: Organic foods.

When it comes time for students to buy groceries, many students don’t take the time to study ingredient lists and nutrition labels. They often simply pick out the things that taste the best or cost the least. Now, however, organic foods present yet another option.

Organic food is “food grown or raised without pesticides or chemical fertilizers” and is non-genetically modified, said Sheila Rombach, a staff member at the Kent Natural Foods Co-Op.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certified inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.”

Though the USDA does not claim that organic food is better for consumers, many people who eat it make at least one claim.

“It tastes better,” Rombach said.

Eugene Tsibel, a junior international relations and political science major who has been eating organic for about seven months, agreed.

“It’s very good,” he said. “It makes you feel good and doesn’t weigh you down.”

Organic food is also better for the earth, Rombach said, because it creates less run off and helps protect the future of the earth.

Rombach sees no drawbacks to eating organic food, though consumers may see a bug or two. She also says there are pretty much no organic products consumers should not eat, passing on a simple rule to help with this.

“If a bug wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t eat it,” she says.

Tsibel thinks others should give his way of eating a try.

“Everyone should (eat it) if they can afford it,” he said. “It’s just good for you.”

Tsibel said that he has noticed some changes in his health since he started eating organic.

“I’m not as tired in the morning, and I don’t need as much sleep,” he said. “I also lost a few pounds, and I don’t get sick as often.”

He says that everyone should try eating organic for one month and see how they feel.

In order to ensure that a product is organic, consumers can look for a green and brown circular label that says “USDA Organic.”

Organic food can be found in every grocery store; however, the Natural Foods Co-Op is currently the only place in Kent that specializes in organic food. Organic products include just about everything from peanut butter to cereal to milk.

The Natural Foods Co-Op, located on 151 E. Main St., is a strictly vegetarian and vegan store, selling no meat. It instead focuses on local products including produce, eggs, honey, maple syrup and bee pollen. The store also sells organic coffee, chocolate and cocoa nibs, along with dairy products, vitamins, grains and nuts.

Contact features reporter Meredith Compton at [email protected].