What You Need To Know About Food & Product Labels

There are many different forms of foods and products on the shelves at grocery stores, convenient stores and bodegas, with labels ranging from organic all the way to natural. How food is processed, packaged, shipped, stored and preserved all affect the quality. So what are these labels, and what do they mean anyway? Can you trust that the products you are buying are safe, or regulated? Read on to find out how you can make the best decisions when shopping for things to eat.

Organic

Refers to anything grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, chemical fertilizers, sewage, sludge, GMOs, trans fats, or other synthetic and toxic substances. The USDA Standards in the National Organic Program have a strict policy, that says any “Certified Organic” products have to be at least made up of 95 percent organic ingredients.

Natural

Products labeled “natural” are not regulated by the FDA or USDA – except for meat and poultry. Natural meat and poultry cannot contain artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, or sweeteners. But this label says absolutely nothing about how the animal was raised or treated. For other products, the “natural” label basically means nothing.

Conventional

This is what you don’t want to buy on a regular basis. Food grown, raised, and manufactured with the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, chemical fertilizers, and other synthetic and toxic substances. This includes GMOs and heavily processed foods. During heavy processing, most of the nutrients are lost and producers then “fortified” the product. The method is cost efficient for the manufacturer, but detrimental to your health.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

These are products or foods that have been altered genetically, either by the insertion, mutation, or deletion of genes. Foods like corn, soybeans and alfalfa tend to be GMOs foods, unless otherwise stated. The purpose is to create different, more desirable, or more hardy crops. These GMO crops become resistant to certain pesticides, and undesirable to typically pests. There are no long term studies that tell us the health impact of consuming GMO foods.

Processed Foods

Processed foods have been transformed from their raw and natural form into foods or “food-like” substances that are packaged and altered to look and taste good. These foods come with many additives, preservatives and dyes that are toxic. Processed foods have very minimal nutrient value and tend to be high in salt, sweeteners, and unhealthy fats. What is crazy is that 70 percent of the average American diet is made up of processed junk.

Don’t be fooled by fancy labels, and colorful packaging when shopping for you and your family. If it comes in a box, and has more than 5 ingredients then its not real food. If the label has to scream all of the “health” benefits and nutrients that it contains, then most likely they are trying to hide the fact that it’s probably not that healthy for you. Read labels, and always try to eat real food with 1 ingredient (i.e. beef, avocado, asparagus).

What other food labels are you guys used to seeing? Comment below!

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