As new organic items fill supermarket shelves, the available choices can seem overwhelming. It's hard to know which products are the real standouts—and worth the extra pennies at the checkout. Our suggestion? Take five.
The five organic products spotlighted on the following pages don't just get VT's vote of confidence, they are huge favorites with professional chefs. Want proof they're the best? Put them to the taste test with these quick-and-easy recipes.
Chef: Amanda Cohen
Chef/owner, Dirt Candy restaurant, New York
Organic Pick: Cascadian Farm Frozen Organic Red Raspberries
"This year, we're starting to make our own raspberry ice cream at Dirt Candy and will use Cascadian Farm berries," Cohen says. "They're never bland—they have a pure raspberry flavor that rivals fresh berries. In fact, they're so sweet, they need little or no added sugar, even if you eat them plain." Try them in this dessert, and everyone will think you used fresh.
Chef: Beverly Lynn Bennett
Author, Vegan Bites and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking
Organic Pick: Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes
"They aren't tinny-tasting like some canned varieties," Bennett says. Fire roasted over natural hardwood, they have a sweet, smoky flavor that's great in soup.
Chef: Claire Criscuolo
Owner, Claire's Corner Copia restaurant, New Haven, Conn.
Organic Pick: Organic Valley Neufchatel Cheese
Organic Valley wins points for its commitment to local dairies and humane livestock practices. "Plus, their Neufchatel is moist, spreadable, and a great alternative to high-fat cream cheese," Criscuolo says. For a nice switch from guacamole, try it in this layered dip.
Chef: Nava Atlas
Author, Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons
Organic Pick: Amy's Organic Refried Beans with Green Chiles
"Their silky texture and rich flavor make a great base for many dishes, including a burrito filling or bean dip," Atlas says. Here, Amy's beans star in a vegan update of a Mexican breakfast classic. It's just the ticket for a festive brunch with friends.
Chef: Alex Jamieson
Chef and holistic health counselor, New York
Organic Pick: Maranatha Organic No Stir Peanut Butter
Gone are the days of remixing separated peanut oil with concrete-like peanut butter. Jamieson also likes this peanut butter because "the flavor is never bitter." Try it in this soba salad—a great take-along lunch because the flavors of the peanut dressing develop over time.