Laughing Gorilla

Travel well on your quest to live true with Earth

Organic 411


Organic means grown without harmful petrochemical fertilizers, sewage sludge, synthetic pesticides, or synthetic herbicides. It also means no irradiation or genetic modification/engineering. But what’s really inside the package? It depends on the label.

When less than 70% of a product is organic, it can’t be labeled “organic” on the front of the package. However, federal law allows the word “organic” to still appear in the list of ingredients.

100% Organic = totally organic contents

Organic = the product is actually 95% organic

Made with Organic Ingredients = the product has a minimum of 70% organic ingredients

Be aware of the controversy with the USDA’s National Organic Program.

Grow your own garden or choose 100% organic produce from your local farmers’ market whenever possible. Thoroughly wash non-organic produce. 6 billion pounds of chemicals are sprayed on food crops every year. The runoff enters rivers, streams, and the land. The earth’s rich topsoil gets depleted. We’re also exposed to chemical residues when we buy non-organic fruits and vegetables. Though organic produce may cost a bit more, consider it a wise investment in the earth’s health and your own. Remember you’re showing your support for hardworking farmers in your community and keeping the local economy strong, too.


Veganic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are healthiest but are not yet readily available. Veganic means grown without any animal byproducts such as blood and manure that contain toxins and harmful bacteria. Veganic agriculture uses compost, also known as “black gold,” to keep the soil fertile. Compost is made from vegetable scraps, fruit peels, grass clippings (if you don’t use synthetic herbicides on your lawn), dead leaves, and used coffee grounds. It has a sweet and woodsy scent. The richest compost doesn’t contain anything derived from animals, such as eggshells. Learn more about composting with this illustrated step-by-step guide.


You can lower your pesticide exposure by almost 90% simply by avoiding the most pesticide-laden foods. Washing produce thoroughly and peeling the skins also decrease your intake of chemicals, carcinogens, and heavy metals. To make your own produce wash solution, mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with one gallon of water.

Check out the pesticide score for common fruits and vegetables. The numbers do fluctuate, but this serves as a handy general guide.

Non-organic produce with the LEAST pesticides:

Onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, cabbage, eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, and watermelon.

Non-organic produce with the MOST pesticides:

Sweet bell peppers, celery, kale, lettuce, spinach, carrots, potatoes, peaches, apples, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, grapes, and pears.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created the database called Skin Deep. Find out if the products you use every day are rated low hazard or high hazard.


Don’t fret about toxins and chemicals you can’t even pronounce or wonder if that shampoo is truly organic. Nab the real-deal organic stuff. Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One! products are available in supermarkets and natural foods stores. Note that the lip balms contain beeswax. For excellent lip balm without beeswax, try Merry Hempsters.