Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Food Labels De-coded Pt. 1

It seems everywhere I look I see the terms Natural, organic, raw, vegan, etc.; but what does all this really mean.  This post has been in the works for some time.  A few years back, when I found out I was expecting; I started paying more attention to what I was putting in and on my body.  I was already exercising pretty frequently; but I decided to take my health to the next level for the sake of my baby.  It was then that I found out the benefits knowing exactly what it meant when a product labeled "organic", or "raw", or even "natural".  Here is what I found out. 

First and foremost let me say that products labeled Natural have absolutely NO   benefit to you. USDA and FDA put only a few stipulations for companies using the label "natural" on their products.  It seems that right now (especially in America) people are trying to be more "green" and conscious of what they are putting on their plates; so food industries and such are changing their labels in order to attract our attention and get us to buy their stuff.  If something is "natural" as opposed to "non-natural" then it must be good for you, Right?  Don't let them fool you!!! They (big food corporations and such) are not any more interested in your health than the man on the moon - with VERY few exceptions.   When you see
"Natural" applied to meat or poultry, it means that the food caries no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  When applied to non-meat foods; this label is meaningless.  According to Webster's new world dictionary, the word "natural" means, "produced or existing in nature; not artificial." By that definition, anything derived from plants, animals or elements found on planet Earth could earn the label  "all natural" .  It is important to realize that it is the un-natural processes that these "all natural" ingredients are going through that is changing these items (be it chemically or structurally) that make it into things that are found no where on Gods's green Earth.  A food labeled "all natural" can contain:  pesticides, herbicides, toxic heavy metals, trace amounts of PCBs (a highly toxic chemical found in transmission fluid andcoolant that has been illegal in the US since 1979), toxic fluoride, hidden MSG, high-temperature cooking by products , synthetic chemical vitamins, other non-natural substances.

Organic  labels, on the other hand carry no antibiotics or growth hormones and are free of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, bioengineering (foods that have been genetically modified - GMO, and irradiation (I didn't know what this meant initially - it means that foods may have been treated with gamma rays, X-rays, or electron beams intended to kill potentially crop damaging insects or bacteria on beef that can cause food poisoning).  Foods can be certified 100% organic if the entire product is organic, Organic if it is 95 to 99%, labeled "made with organic ingredients" if at least 70% of the ingredients are organic.  If the product is make with less than 70% organic ingredients, then it can list the organic products on the side; but not the front.  The PLU (product look-up) code differentiates organic goods by beginning with the number "9".

I know what most of you are thinking (the same thing my husband told me), "organic food is too expensive!!!"  So, my best option was to find the foods that generally use the highest amount of pesticides and such and purchase them when I can.  Also; buy U.S. products - local is even better- as it is probably the healthiest and safest food in the world.  Foods that are high in fat (meat, poultry, dairy, and oils) should be organic whenever possible because fats hold on to pesticides.

Foods conventionally grown with the highest pesticide residues
1. peaches
2. apples
3. sweet bell peppers
4. celery
5. nectarines
6. strawberries
7. cherries
8. pears
9. imported grapes
10. spinach
11. lettuce
12. potatoes
13. and carrots

Foods with the lowest pesticide residues include
1.  onions
2.  avocado
3.  frozen sweet corn
4.  pineapples
5.  mango
6.  asparagus,
7.  frozen sweet peas
8.  kiwis
9.  bananas
10. cabbage
11. broccoli
12. papaya
13. blueberries
14. cauliflower

To Be continued...

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