We all want to feed our families healthy food (at least I hope so!). Unfortunately, shopping at the grocery store can be so complicated these days. It seems like we need a manual just to navigate the food aisles. Reading all of the different food labels can be overwhelming because they can be so confusing and much of it is marketing hype.
Do You Know What to Really Look for When Reading Food Labels?
- If it is labeled “all-natural”, is it truly better for you and worth the extra money?
- What does organic, or the non-GMO Project Verified label mean?
- What is gluten-free?
- Is meat free of antibiotics and grassfed?
- Are eggs pasture raised, or cage free?
- Do you really know what to look for when reading food labels!?!
I was surprised recently when I was out of town and asked a grocery store clerk if they had an organic food section. Even she was confused! She asked me if that was where the gluten-free section would be, thinking they were the same thing. I explained that they are 2 different things. While more information is being spread about organic, natural and gluten-free, I realize that more needs to be shared.
Is Natural Better Than Organic?
We’ve all seen product packaging boasting that the product is “Natural,” “All-Natural” or “100% Natural.” Is this the best option? When I have asked people which is better “Natural” or “Organic”, I typically am told Natural. The term Natural sounds extraordinarily healthy, right? It may sound healthy, but, unfortunately, that’s probably not the case. The term is misleading and doesn’t actually mean much. Much of it is confusing marketing hype, and not worth the extra money it may cost you.
Natural simply means that the product has no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives – and that’s it! It doesn’t keep you from nasty pesticides or from being genetically modified. Also, Natural does not mean Organic. There is a big difference between the two.
Organic Means Something – Be Sure to Look for the Official USDA Organic Label
I imagine you have seen the round Organic seal on food labels. This label represents many things.
In addition to the requirement that the product has no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives, Organic also means that no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were used – and the product contains no genetically engineered ingredients.
The Organic logo can only be applied to those items where at least 95% of the ingredients are organic. Before a product is labeled organic, a government-approved certifier inspects organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors and traders – including supermarkets and restaurants – to make sure they comply with all USDA organic regulations.
There are various classifications of organic content from 100% Organic to made with less than 70% organic ingredients. Click here for more information about the various classifications.
Non-GMO Project Verified
The Non-GMO Project is “North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO (genetically modified organism) food and products”. The Non-GMO Project Verified seal on a label indicates that the product has gone through their verification process assuring that “the product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance.”
The organization only tests for genetically modified ingredients, not for pesticides and herbicides. It also doesn’t have anything to do with limiting preservatives and dyes.
Do you Eat Gluten-Free?
“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.”
Consuming gluten can cause a wide arrange of symptoms and there are various levels of sensitivities. Gluten can cause intestinal damage in those with Celiac disease. One out of 100 people have Celiac disease.
I had the honor of interviewing a couple of guests who shared a ton of information about both Celiac disease and eating gluten-free. I highly recommend listening to the interviews for more information.
Read Next: Which Healthy Diet is the Best?
Living Natural Today Wants to Know:
- Do you look for the Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified label when shopping?
- Do you eat gluten-free?
Great information! It is always really confusing reading labels and trying to figure out exactly what the heck some of it means. I still am unsure when I should be buying organic and when it doesn’t really matter. I can’t ever remember that dirty dozen list and already spend enough time in the store to begin with that I don’t feel like standing there to look it up on my phone.
Thanks for stopping by! For my health, I always try to buy organic since it doesn’t have the harmful pesticides and GMOs. Following the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 is a good list. If nothing else, I recommend buying meat that’s organic. Happy shopping!