Go to the store, walk down the aisle and pick up just about any package and you are bound to see 1 maybe 2, 3, or 4 different labels on it; non-GMO, organic, USDA organic, gluten-free, vegan, natural, all natural, etc. Whne looking at all these labels which ones should you be paying particular attention too and which ones can you dismiss.
These labels can be quiet confusing and misleading at times, mainly becuase many are simply marketing ploys to make you think that something is healthier than it actually is. So today I'm going to embark on the task of empowering you to know whats acutally in your food.
I'm going to share with you the 4 labels that as a nutrition counselor I believe are important to know about.
✨The last one is the most important so make sure you read it till the end!✨
Boy is this one vague. As I dove into the research to find more clarity I ended up feeling even more lost. This label is quite controversial as its terms are very lenient and there's no actual agreement to what can fall under this label of “natural”… comforting right. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) does not even recognize this term, essentially meaning that it doesn't mean much and it's not regulated.
Unfotrunelty though, thanks to strategic marketing, YOU, the consumer, read "natural" and you think "Healthy". Everyone wants to eat more natural right? Natural is good, it’s healthy, fresh and what I should be eating, right? An apple is natural and what you should be consuming. … but that's beside the point. If you do happen to pick up a package and it says "natural" on it don't be fooled! It can be filled with antibiotics, growth hormones and other smilier chemicals!!
I have seen foods with high fructose corn syrup be labeled “natural” along with many packages of highly refined crackers and chips… we got a real problem if these foods are considered “natural”
Summary- Many unhealthy things can be labeled “natural” so do not rely on this label. What's natural is unadulterated plants from mamma earth in their pure form, not something from a package.
*There are some AMAZING comapnies out there creating great products free of preservatives, sugars and artifical flavors. These foods come from a package but I exclude it here-- I am talking about conventional packaged food.
This a popular label in this day and age. Everywhere you look you'll see a GF label; restaurant menus, shampoo bottles, crackers, + drinks. What gluten is and why people are avoiding it is beyond the scope of this, (what I wanted to be) short article. In regards to labeling this is what I want you to understand.
Just because the label on a food says ‘Gluten Free” does not automatically make that food healthy. A lack of gluten does not mean a huge influx of broccoli sprouts. Many gluten-free foods, in fact, are highly processed, filled with thickeners, sugar, and preservatives and are way more unhealthy than the foods people are trying to avoid (unless you have a true wheat allergy like celiac disease). These foods can also be saturated with pesticides which disrupt your gut microbiome and your endocrine system.
Summary: Don’t be fooled by the GF label, it's not in any way telling of the nutritional density of a food. Many processed foods are labeled GF.
75% of processed food is genetically modified.
What does that even mean?
A genetically modified food is when scientist in a laboratory change the genetic makeup of the food to create a plant that is either a pesticide itself or designed to be resistant to pesticides. There are not enough studies to show the safety of genetically modified foods on our health and we are still waiting for more conclusive data to conclude how it affects the human body. So in the meantime, they continue to make GMO foods and flood our supermarkets with this potentially dangerous food. We will have to wait a couple years, experimenting on our bodies, to see how this affects the human race,
I recommend though going for nonGMO foods. Personally, I don’t like the idea of anyone changing the genetic makeup and structure of a plant that I put in my body. Point blank a GMO food is not natural, and not how mamma earth has designed it.
This next part is important.
Many people see the label nonGMO and they think the product is healthy. Now while I advocate for nonGMO foods this is not the only label that needs to be on the package.
Heres why—> a genetically modified food can have;
Synthetic pesticides (linked to lymphoma and leukemia)
Roundup Herbicides (linked to cancer, autism + celiac disease)
Sewage Sludge (human waste contaminated with endocrine disruptors and heavy metals)
Antibiotics (contributing to antibiotic resistance)
Rectopamine (drug residues, banned in dozens of countries.
They can spray nonGMO crops with a lot of things, so yes the crop may not be genetical modified but that does not mean that it was grown organically.
Summary: the safety of GMOs is undetermined so it’s best to wait until further evidence of their safety comes out before you eat mass amounts of it. NonGMO foods contain a slew of unhealthy, toxic substances and so this label while important is not enough.
Ahh finally we have come here, to good old food. Back in the old days we didn't need this label as everything was organic. Now a days though it is way more common, to produce a tomato with synthetic pesticeds than to do it naturally. So we don't label the pesticide ridden produce but now slap an "ORGANIC" label on the food that we produce in a natural way. A little backwards no? I'd love to see us slap a "Pesticide" label on the food that isn't produced organically.
Now, I’m not saying that organic food is perfect. There are many products out there labeled “organic” that have carrageenan, rancid oils, natural flavors, MSG and the like. Just because the label says “organic” does not mean it’s the end all be all, BUT what you are ensuring when you buy organic is that you are getting;
-No toxic pesticides + chemicals
-No growth hormones + antibiotics
-No synthetic preservatives
-No petroleum based fertilizers
-No sewage sludge
That's a whole lot of crap that ISN'T on your food.
All of the above mentioned ( the pesticides + chemicals) can wreak havoc on your body, increasing the risk for cancer, obesity, digestive problems, hormonal dysregulation and more. To read about the detriments of such pesticides please read this post. I talk about the dangers of glyphosate-- the most common used toxin that we spray all over our food. I also give you an antidote :)
When I'm looking at labels I look for the nonGMO label and the 'Vegan" label BUT if those things aren't accompanied by the USDA organic label then I put it back on the shelf and keep it away from my body.
Summary: The organic label is super important. If a products does not say organic than it has dangerous chemicals and pesticides on/in it. Out of all the labels out there the organic label is the one that I care most about.
I hope this helped!