When we first started eating real food the concept seemed simple enough- just eat food that’s real, not fake. Got it. But when I started looking for some clear directional signs (labels) on this journey, I started to feel a little lost. There are a lot of marketing labels on foods that appear to point in the right direction, like “natural”, but are actually a quick exit right off the real food road. To help you stay on track, here’s a map of our “Real Food Rules”, some reliable road markers, and some tips for avoiding marketing detours.
One of the most reliable signs on your real food journey. There are strict requirements that food producers must adhere to in order to qualify as organic. This seal means your food was produced without:
– toxic pesticides, petroleum or sewage sludge based fertilizers, genetic modification (GMOs), hormones or antibiotics
It also means animals have access to the outdoors, eat organically, and are not fed any animal byproducts.
When buying fruits and vegetables the signs are clear – they either are, or they aren’t, organic. However, when shopping the natural food aisle in any grocery store, it’s easy to get lost. Just because a package has the word “organic” on it, doesn’t mean that it’s sugar free or that it contains whole grains. Also, be aware that the labeling indicates the amount of organic ingredients. If the label reads “100% organic”, then it is all organic. In order to read “organic” at least 95% of the ingredients are organic and the remaining items aren’t available organically. If a product reads “Made with Organic Ingredients” it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Always read labels and keep in mind the above “Real Food Rules”.
Watch out for these claims:
Don’t get taken for a ride with these marketing claims. There is no regulation in place for terms like “Artisan”, “Wholesome”, “Healthy”, etc. There are guidelines in place for the use of “Natural”, but they’re very broad. According to the FDA, a product claiming to be natural may not have “added color, artificial flavor, or synthetic substances”. However, those products may contain high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, pesticides or GMOs.
In a Consumer Reports survey from last year, one third of consumers believed that a “Natural” label meant the food was organic. The only way to be sure of what’s in your food is to read the label. Don’t rely on the packaging.
Here’s a great video by www.onlyorganic.com that helps to put it all in perspective.
Have you noticed any of these marketing detours on your real food journey? Tell me about it in the comments!