You’ve made a list and you’ve checked it twice, but once you get in the grocery store, you can’t help but to float towards the produce that have the boho-chic organic sign gliding over it like a halo. You begin to wonder, should you pay $2 more for the organic baby carrots or stick to the regular carrots that have been good to you and your family for years…
According to livescience.com healthier diets is a national agenda for many Americans, so you are not alone in wanting to do the right thing and buy healthier products. The issue is, sifting through marketing ploys and figuring out what is exactly “healthy.” Though healthy is a convoluted word, you do not have to read a research study to agree that having a balanced diet is essential for overall health. But what about the GMO vs. Non-GMO, cage free, grass fed labeling tactics? Let’s not even mention the cost of the “green” products. It can all seem very daunting to decide to live a healthier lifestyle when there are so many pieces to the puzzle. We have simplified the formula for you Pynk girl, giving you the bottom line on what to buy organic vs. conventional.
First, let’s get an understanding of what some of the terms on our staple foods mean; this will help us to make more informed decisions:
Certified Organic: In terms of food labels, organic suggests the limitation or absence of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other additives used in the production of food. This label is important for certain fruits and veggies.
“However, it does not strictly define production practices related to space per animal or outdoor access requirements – for example, confinement areas are permitted to fatten organic beef cattle” – Animal Welfare Approved
Non –GMO: this stands for genetically modified organism. It could mean that your foods are being artificially manipulated, or injected with growth hormones, traits from other foods, and bacteria to achieve a particular size, color, or even taste. For examples, many pineapple brands add sugar to their crops for a sweeter fruit.
Cage Free or Free Range: This label pertains to eggs. Cage free means that the chickens are uncaged and able to freely roam a barn or other facility. Free range suggests that the chickens are not confined to cages and have some access to the outdoors, however, the condition and time spent outdoors is vague. For example, a packed, screened in barn can be considered free range.
Grass-Fed: Generally pertains to pork and beef products. The animals graze on grass and other harvest whether than being fed GMO corn product intended to make them fatter, to yield more meat from their bodies.
All natural: This label mostly pertains to meat and eggs. It suggests that animals are treated and raised in conditions as close to natural order as possible. For example, they get to roam in fields, eat grass; they are not pumped with hormones and antibiotics, and are not fed animal products that could harm them, thus making us sick for consuming them. Always read the ingredients on food labels to ensure that the product is indeed all natural.
Who knew that eating healthy would involve so much terminology and research? Fact is, some farm and factory practices of food production nowadays is downright wrong, and consuming these foods could expose you to bacteria, pesticides, and hormones that do more harm than good. That being said, shopping organic could get expensive, especially if the food label claim is untrue and slapped on the package to get more money out of you.
A rule of thumb is to remember that buying all-natural should pertain to meat and eggs. There are certain produce that should be bought organic but it’s not necessary (we list them below), and almost every food undergoes some level of GMO. So don’t allow culture and media to drive you to a highly-restrictive diet or to blow your grocery budget on craftily-labeled food items when ultimately, balance is the key.
Photo credits: Joy McCarthy, Getty Images, Theproducemom.com