Tagging your food – demystifying food labeling
You’ve probably noticed that the labels “natural” and “organic” on food has become a huge trend pointing towards a more conscious and balanced diet.
You might have noticed this in your local supermarket and even my local bodeg carries organic snacks! Many healthy looking snacks seem to be good for you next to our beloved junk food e.g. M&M’s, Snicker’s, potato chips etc. at least that’s what is advertised on their packages. So if you’re into healthy snacking the following will help shed some light on food labeling, hopefully.
(for the record organically grown does not mean it's certified organic))
Let’s see how a food label can help you to buy good-for-you-food
It has been a mild winter and farmers are getting ready to put the first seeds into the soil, some of them have already started in their greenhouses. If the warm weather continues like it has been we’ll have a heck of a spring. I can’t wait to embrace pea shoots, baby lettuce, radishes and so forth.
On the other hand many farmers are not that excited about these mild temperatures since many bugs have a party too. Apparently harmful bacteria and organisms are very present on vegetable fields this season which will require serious pest management. Many farmers have an IPM, which stands for integrated Pest Management. It includes spraying their fields to fight the bad organisms. This is my first question before I buy in commercial quantities - what kind of IPM do you practice? If you’d like to find out more about it click on the following link www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/ipm.htm#what. By the way raw fruit and vegetables are excluded from the requirement to be labeled by the government – it’s voluntary.
(no we're talking - this is the real deal the truth is it took me some
time to figure all this labels out, researching it on the internet)
I prefer a non-synthetic, biological IPM since many sicknesses such as cancer and who knows what are linked to what we consume on a daily basis. I must state that this is my opinion and there is no quantitative research or proof yet connecting the effects of pesticides to illnesses but I do believe there is a serious correlation.
Big brother is watching!
Thanks to the FDA we have some help in making purchasing decisions with product labeling. Usually ingredient lists are right in front or at eyesight on the packaging. There are respectable Government programs identifying what what it means to be “organic” or “non-GMO” (genetically modified organism). There are non-governmental programs such as CNG which stands for certified natural grown. Big companies such as Whole Foods have developed their own standards and do their own inspections with their suppliers. All these standards are super helpful to stuff your food shopping bag or in other words will give us at least somewhat of an assurance that that particular food is controlled grown and without synthetic pesticides.
The front side labeling of a package is voluntary, but when it comes to the back side the FDA constructs requirements for mos prepared food such as breads, cereals, canned and frozen foods, desserts, drinks etc.
(this package of pasta caught my attention since so much
seemed to be good with it, the organic symbol actually made me buy it)
Get the facts straight
Most ingredients on the label are measured in grams (g) or milligrams (mg), which is the 1000th part of 1 gram (tiny, tiny amounts). Additional info is given as percentages, which is based on the national, average 2000 calorie adult diet.
By researching the web for the label subject I came across some mind blowing data. It looks like not do many people read the nutrient label right if it should prevent us from getting to a point of obesity. All that average adult diet won’t help you much if you’re not average e.g. under weight, overweight or obese - and who likes to be average anyway. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that 1/3 of adults in the US are obese and then add 17% of children (2 - 19 years old).Obesity is defined by the US average height of 5’9”:
124 lbs or less = Underweight
125 lbs to 168 lbs = Healthy Weight
169 lbs to 202 lbs = Overweight
203 lbs or more = Obese
So if you really need to know what is the right food in terms of the nutritional value you need to hit the computer keyboard and work with a system which spits out how much of fat, sodium, carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals you should consume on a daily basis. Finding someones exact amount nutrient value on packaged food seems to me more or less impossible. It looks like the goverment has much updating to do!