So, you've heard me saying you should check your labels to be sure you know what products are going into and onto your body. Besides looking at the ingredient labels, how do you know what all the labels you see on packing mean? Just walk down the aisle at the supermarket and you'll see thinks like "All Natural", "Non-GMO", "Organic", "Gluten-Free". "Free Range", "Cage free", "Fair Trade", "Grass Fed" and "Green". How do you decipher past the marketing so that you can make the healthiest choices?
Here's a great article from from Livestrong.com that can shed some light.
Want the cliff notes?
Organic - Food that is “produced without using harmful or toxic pesticides, sewage sludge or petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from un-cloned animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.” If you’re interested in shopping for organic foods, look for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic symbol; it’s only carried on foods that are “100% organic” or “organic” (containing at least 95% organic foods).
Gluten-Free - This is important for anyone with celiac disease or intolerance to gluten. Foods labeled as gluten free must have a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm), which is the lowest level that can be detected in foods. In addition to meeting this standard, food products that may bear these labels must also not include any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains.
Non-GMO - Today more than 70 percent of the packaged foods in North America contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the top five crops contributing to this are corn, canola, soy, cotton and sugar beets. In an effort to avoid these genetically modified foods, the Non-GMO Project was formed. If you see "Non-GMO Project Verified" you can trust it. Also, if you see the USDA Organic symbol, it's safe as the USDA’s National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs.
Free Range and Cage Free - Free Range has only one requirement, that the animal has some access to the outdoors. Cage-free simply means that the hens are not living in tiny cages, but they do still live inside buildings.
Fair Trade - The Fair Trade network certifies numerous food products including coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa, fresh fruit and vegetables, sugar, beans and grains, flowers, nuts, oils and butters, honey, spices and wine. This label ensures that equitable trade practices are in place at every level of the supply chain from the farmers, to the workers, to the surrounding community for that product.
Grass-Fed - This certification is specific to meat and dairy products. These animals must be fed only grass and forage during the growing season. The label however, does not extend to limit the use of hormones, pesticides or antibiotics.
All-Natural - While many products have “all-natural” labeling or packaging, there is no universal standard or definition for this claim. This claim doesn’t hold any clout and may not be worth the extra spend in the store.
Green - Just because something says “green” on the label, it does not mean it is healthy. You'll still need to carefully review labels to make sure a product is healthy as the word "green" if often overused and misused.
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