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Organic vs conventional spices: does it matter?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 02, 2011 at 7:34 AM

So I'm starting to get into spices as an alternative to salt and sugar. Do organic spices make a difference in the diet? It would be a lot cheaper to buy spices in bulk at Costco, except they're not organic.

I'm already eating organic veggies, fruits, and meat...

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on November 03, 2011
at 05:07 PM

I can't use a lot of spices from international markets because of the gluten cross-contamination. I usually buy in bulk from World Spice in Seattle and haven't had problems with their spices (google for their website). The spice brand I feel best about is McCormick because they're VERY careful about contamination issues. Also, don't buy too much at once. And buy them whole (to grind yourself) if you can. The flavor will be loads better because as soon as you grind spices they lose potency very quickly.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 03, 2011
at 03:12 PM

From what I've read online on various celiac/gluten-free forums, non of their spices or blends have gluten with the exception of the broth bases which are made in a separate facility. However, I do not have a gluten sensitivity so I have not personally verified this information. They have an 800 number on their website you can use to get more information.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on November 03, 2011
at 03:04 PM

are they gluten-free? Or cross-contaminated?

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 02, 2011
at 10:57 PM

AFAIK Penzeys spices are not organic. However they are very high quality and they have an amazing selection.

De0ac3e3479259bdcb1f84b4c7ab314d

(90)

on November 02, 2011
at 09:36 PM

Are the spices at Penzeys organic? Website doesn't say anything...

De0ac3e3479259bdcb1f84b4c7ab314d

(90)

on November 02, 2011
at 09:22 PM

using spices instead of salt/sugar.

De0ac3e3479259bdcb1f84b4c7ab314d

(90)

on November 02, 2011
at 09:21 PM

I've got a bunch of local stores that sells them. I'll continue to get the organic ones then. Thanks!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on November 02, 2011
at 03:24 PM

I love Penzeys and have to be forcibly removed whenever I find one of their shoppes. When I was in Ohio, bought a ton, I was pulled out of security when I was flying home so they could examine each one as they didn't believe it was all for cooking. "Sorry sir, no heroin today, just things to cook with... oh ha cooking heroin!" "PLEASE not the wand - I was joking!" :)

C3edabc6267abec9b5f8178e5d73552c

(725)

on November 02, 2011
at 02:46 PM

ಠ_ಠ did you say sugar?

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 02, 2011
at 12:35 PM

Second the Penzeys recommendation!!

  • De0ac3e3479259bdcb1f84b4c7ab314d

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5 Answers

3
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 02, 2011
at 10:00 AM

The reasons to buy organic herbs and spices are the same as the reasons to buy organic produce. However, I would resist the urge to buy bulk herbs and spices at Costco for a different reason. Herbs and spices lose their potency and should be replaced once a year--at least (some sources recommend replacing after six months). Your best option for optimal flavor--organic or not--is to buy small quantities from a source with high turnover and replace them frequently. If you don't have a good local source, Penzeys is a popular option.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 02, 2011
at 12:35 PM

Second the Penzeys recommendation!!

De0ac3e3479259bdcb1f84b4c7ab314d

(90)

on November 02, 2011
at 09:21 PM

I've got a bunch of local stores that sells them. I'll continue to get the organic ones then. Thanks!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on November 02, 2011
at 03:24 PM

I love Penzeys and have to be forcibly removed whenever I find one of their shoppes. When I was in Ohio, bought a ton, I was pulled out of security when I was flying home so they could examine each one as they didn't believe it was all for cooking. "Sorry sir, no heroin today, just things to cook with... oh ha cooking heroin!" "PLEASE not the wand - I was joking!" :)

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on November 03, 2011
at 03:04 PM

are they gluten-free? Or cross-contaminated?

De0ac3e3479259bdcb1f84b4c7ab314d

(90)

on November 02, 2011
at 09:36 PM

Are the spices at Penzeys organic? Website doesn't say anything...

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 02, 2011
at 10:57 PM

AFAIK Penzeys spices are not organic. However they are very high quality and they have an amazing selection.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 03, 2011
at 03:12 PM

From what I've read online on various celiac/gluten-free forums, non of their spices or blends have gluten with the exception of the broth bases which are made in a separate facility. However, I do not have a gluten sensitivity so I have not personally verified this information. They have an 800 number on their website you can use to get more information.

2
8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

on November 03, 2011
at 03:12 PM

It depends on how sensitive you are to gluten. Many ethnic food markets - African, Asian, Latin-American, Middle Eastern, etc. sell dry spices very cheaply.

The downside is that dry spices are often ground, produced, processed and/or stored in the same room/building as grains - particularly gluten grains like oats, barley, rye, and wheat. Most second and third world countries do not have the consistent quality control or standards as first world countries, so there is a chance for cross-contamination even in one batch but not in another! I have not yet seen certified gluten-free spices from second and third world countries. If someone knows otherwise - please post and I will change this post. I'd love to know!

If you don't have this level of sensitivity (and you should test and document in a food journal), then I wouldn't worry about it.

Spices should often be used within 6 months to 1 year, or they lose their flavor, or worse taste bitter.

This post somewhat relates to your question and has some good spice options: http://paleohacks.com/questions/37834/cant-give-up-condiments-does-it-matter#axzz1cefWNF00

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on November 03, 2011
at 05:07 PM

I can't use a lot of spices from international markets because of the gluten cross-contamination. I usually buy in bulk from World Spice in Seattle and haven't had problems with their spices (google for their website). The spice brand I feel best about is McCormick because they're VERY careful about contamination issues. Also, don't buy too much at once. And buy them whole (to grind yourself) if you can. The flavor will be loads better because as soon as you grind spices they lose potency very quickly.

1
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on April 20, 2012
at 09:18 PM

Because spices are a dried, concentrated form a plant usually imported from abroad, the concern would be for high levels of pesticide residue, not to mention anti-clumping chemicals added. Besides that, the flavour difference is pretty huge. Spices, because you just generally a bit at a time, are the one thing I maintain as strictly organic. Plus, I'm picky about the flavour aspect. I would recommend the organic, and think it's probably even more important than organic produce because of the concentrated aspect of the pesticides and contaminants.

0
03e3bba7e338a7c6a10ebd93c62a3501

on April 03, 2012
at 02:37 PM

I faced the same dilemma. I don't have much overt sensitivity to gluten but I was concerned about how the spices and herbs were being handled. Many of the spices coming from China and other markets are irradiated before coming to the US. The controls on pesticides are lax too. Then you throw in GMO's and silcon dioxide for clumping, it makes it hard to be paleo.

So I started buying all of my spices from Mountain Rose (www.mountainroseherbs.com) and started mixing blends in bulk for me and friends at my box. This led to me formeing a rub of the month club (shameless plug here) at www.paleoblends.com which launches this month.

Good luck on your paleo journey

Neil Cohen www.paleoblends.com

0
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on November 02, 2011
at 08:26 AM

I get a lot of organic spices and herbs from eBay. They are cheap like that - buying in larger quantities. I got some organic cinnamon from Sri Lanka and it is fabulous.

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