CHASING
THE BALANCE
You are what you eat, and drink, so this is a good place to start.

THE ART OF FOOD LABELING

JayneKraman - Author  | 
May 5, 2016
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What is in a label?

There is no question that the market of consumers for organic, natural, healthy food has grown and that market has become increasingly more aware.   The dilemma is, “What do these ever growing number of labels found on everything from a box of Cheerios to chicken parts REALLY mean???”

WHAT IS IN A LABEL?

USDA ORGANIC SEAL:  95 -100% of the ingredients are organic. Not using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, as well as some other very nasty things, will have to have been enforced for 3 years prior to earning an organic license and will have to stay enforced throughout the term of the license.  Likewise no genetically modified organisms are used or irradiation (using gamma rays to kill micro-organisms, and no definitive testing has been done to know if irradiation gives you food that is safe for consumption btw – gamma rays just aren’t good for you). Holding back antibiotics and hormones, using organic feed for animals, and letting them run around in a pasture, is also part of the game.

Paying attention to such things as building up soil that has nutrients, including crop rotation, and keeping a handle on poop management is adhered to (somebodyʼs gotta do it). Once you have the organic product you also have to avoid contamination during the processing.

Meeting all these guidelines is monitored by an approved USDA independent agency.  You have to know that there are products, without the USDA seal, that may say “organic ingredients” on their packages but the range of actual organic ingredients may span from 70 – 95% – some even less.  If the product contains less than 70% organic ingredients, it can name them on the breakdown labeling you find on the side of the box.

NATURAL:  Though it sounds good, there is no real standard here except if it is used on poultry and meat products.  In those cases, the USDA states that there cannot be artificial colors, flavors, ingredients, preservatives, and there is minimal processing. It DOES NOT MEAN that the food is organic, free of hormones or antibiotics, raised running around in the y ard, or that sustainable practices are used.

PASTURE RAISED, GRASS FED, GRAIN FED,  FREE-RANGE:

“Pasture raised”  and “grass fed” are similar, though with “pasture raised”  the animal was raised in an actual pasture utilizing traditional farming methods.

“Grass-fed”, on the other hand, means that the animal was fed grass rather than grains, not necessarily in the great outdoors. A “grass fed” animal should not have had hormones administered to grow faster or antibiotics to prevent disease but if they do get sick, antibiotics would be used.

“Grain fed” means the animal was raised on grain. Cows in the wild, don’t eat grain by the way. If you want to know if that grain contains no animal byproducts then you will have to check for a label that says “100% Vegetarian Diet”.

“Free range” only applies to egg and poultry production.  It means those chickens have had outside time so that they can do what chickens do, but it does not necessarily mean that they’ve been outside a lot of time or that they have been raised in a cruelty free way with no antibiotics.   The USDA defines this but there is no verification by outside inspectors….hmmmm.

So…a label is….well, a label.  In your quest to be healthy READ the labels and know what you are getting.

 

 

 

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