As of now I think I am going to try to put one post a week out and aim for Monday’s. This blog post will discuss the importance of being able to read food labels effectively. No matter what your goal is we all need to eat, this post is aimed at making grocery shopping a bit easier in the long term (although it might be challenging right off the bat for the inexperienced, and that’s okay)! This post will cover popular phrases used on a variety of food labels today such as: “natural”. “organic”, and “non-gmo”.
I am sure at one point or another we have all seen a commercial on television or stopped and picked up a product with the claims “all natural” on it. We might associate the term “natural” with pure, healthy or wholesome therefore we might not read the nutrition label and automatically assume the product is healthy. So what does the term “natural” really mean?….
well, there really isn’t a strict definition given by the FDA. The FDA does state “it is difficult to define a food product as natural because the food product has been processed and is NO LONGER a product of the earth. The FDA does go on to suggest that “(we) do not object to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances” (FDA.gov). If the FDA isn’t clear on the term, than the manufacturers that produce our food sure will not be clear either. It honestly comes down to education of the consumer (since the United States annually ranks as the top or close to the top on major stats such as obesity and disease I suggest we can no longer rely on our food industry to inform us. The major players in the food industry have one goal TO SELL MORE FOOD!! Like any other business if there is an opportunity to cut costs and save money it will most likely be done, even if that means putting harmful ingredients in our food. Check out this link natural foods that aren’t . Someone told me years ago when I entered into the world of healthy living “if you cannot pronounce it don’t eat it” meaning if the ingredient names look odd, confusing or are just plan hard to pronounce it is probably not a good idea to put it in your body.
What about Organic food? Organic food doesn’t use any herbicide, pesticide or any other “..cide” in the production and processing of our foods. Organic really is a consumers best bet in the quest for long term health because the production methods used to produce the food is how nature intended it to be. Organic food also will usually have all the vitamins and minerals intact….or the STUFF THAT MAKES FOOD, FOOD! Organic food is a bit more expensive but there is much more that goes into that higher markup price than just the name organic. Organic farmers/producers have loads more costs compared to their non-sustainable counterparts (farmers who using “unconventional methods”) which makes the price a bit higher. check out this link for foods that you should consider buying organic and foods that it is likely okay to not buy organic Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen
Lastly Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s). I am a huge advocate for labeling of GMO’s and also would love to see them stop infiltrating our food supply. GMO’s started appearing in our food in the early 1990’s. When scientists take a gene or “part” from one organism and insert it into another organism they can create “new organisms”. GMO’s give the ability for farmers to create bacteria resistant crops thus seasonal weather effecting crops is mitigated. This sounds great but these “super genes” can and do stay inside of us and can alter our DNA. It sounds crazy but if you really sit back and think about it objectively the less crazy you might think it seems. Essentially GMO’s are too new to know the long term effects plain and simple. Since they have been introduced to our diet correlating statistics involving the rise of autism, food allergies and chronic disease have increased (check out this site for more info).Are those effects directly related? I say yes, others might say no and that’s okay. Right now there are heated debates about whether labeling GMO’s is right or wrong–most major food industry giants are against the labeling of GMO’s (if they don’t pose a risk what is the big deal if its labeled or not?–seems sketchy many companies don’t want labeling).
We are getting to a point in history where our food is no longer food on the inside, just processed junk.
the point is pay attention to what’s in your food no matter what side of the fence you are on and make your decisions accordingly. On my side of the fence there is no room for chemicals and questionable ingredients in our food.
Stop paying attention to fad diets and gimmicks and pay more attention to what you put inside your body! Proper diet really is the best medicine
Make your own decisions, ask questions and be curious!
Until next time..
*check out Marion Nestlé’s book Food Politics (she was a former nutritionist that worked directly with the FDA and what she discusses in her text is truly mind-blowing)