How much attention do you give to food labels? Are you easily persuaded to buy something simply because it’s labeled as “healthy?” Or better yet, do you rely heavily on food having the distinction “gluten free?” Well as far as who controls label descriptions on food, the FDA oversees what’s acceptable and not acceptable on food labels.
The food label
All food labels contain certain identifying characteristics such as the specific ingredients, net weight, suggested daily values, and nutrition facts. In fact, these labels are the most tangible way for consumers to be pro-active about their food choices. The tricky part is that the words, “organic, all-natural, and healthy” confuse consumers because they appear to be one in the same.
Organic, all-natural, and healthy
First, the organic food label is different from the other two because it’s overseen by the Department of Agriculture as opposed to the FDA. The reason for this difference is due to the mere definition of the word, organic, which explains the degree that food production has been unadulterated. In other words, food is considered organic if it was grown on crops free of pesticides, and artificial fertilizers, as well as from animals free of growth hormones or antibiotics. In addition, there are specific guidelines that manufacturers must follow on their labels.
As for the label, “all-natural,” there is no assurance that the food was treated or produced in an organic manner. In fact, the only guarantee with a label stating, “all-natural,” is that there are some ingredients deemed “natural” contained within the product. For example, a “natural” fruit juice label may be identified as having “natural” fruits such as bananas or blueberries. Also, natural food products may have actually undergone a minimal manufacturing process, but their labels do not have to adhere to the stringent guidelines that organic labels do. However, don’t be fooled into thinking these fruits have been treated free of pesticides or artificial fertilizers.
The choice is yours
Ultimately, there is no solid evidence to say if organic or non-organic food is in fact healthier for you. However, if the thought of chemicals being used in your food production is concerning for you, organic food would be your best option. Not to mention, research has shown that organic food consumption has equated to receiving more nutritionally desired antioxidants, as well as decreasing the likelihood of being exposed to toxic heavy metals. In contrast, choosing all-natural food products means that you are ingesting less processed food.
If your goal is to find foods that are “healthy,” my advice would be to not believe everything you read. Food manufacturers are going to make their food product labels as enticing as they can and attempt to draw consumers in with the word, “healthy.” Your best bet is to choose foods that have labels with minimal ingredients and the less complicated words, the better! Keep in mind though that your organic food options will be costlier than non-organic and all-natural will be more expensive than processed.
At the end of the day, you are your biggest advocate and with being an educated consumer, comes power!
Happy shopping! Here’s to living your best life ever! Feel free to leave me a comment or any additional insight you may have.