Seattle DINING! logo


SWFE 2018


Food Labels

What’s real, what’s bogus

Did you get tricked into buying an "All Natural" product only to find out it was fed GMO corn or sprayed with pesticides? The amount of food labeling we see today when we go shopping is confusing, so let’s take a look at what’s actually good for you and what is considered bogus labeling and why.

Two points before we go any further.

  1. This article is based on USDA/FDA information for American buyers. If you're in Canada or elsewhere, consult your government websites for their labeling requirements.
  2. If you see a label shown below, that's what's you're looking for when shopping.

 

The Good

USDA Organic

If you’re on the road to eating clean, this label should be visible on the majority of foods and beverages in your home. The certification ensures that foods weren’t made with GMO products, no pesticides were used, and basically the food and/or it’s ingredients were available 150 years ago before the advent of chemical food, which occupies 90% or more of grocers' shelves nowadays. Surprisingly, it costs more to get purer food without all the science inserted. But the more consumers purchase clean foods, the higher the demand will go, eventually taking down the cost of growing it and getting it to you. In the meantime, if you’re concerned about the price, ask yourself what’s more important – saving money now and spending more money at the doctor later, or living a healthier life from here on out.

Look for the label on fruits and vegetables. It means they weren’t sprayed with pesticides and haven’t been meddled with by Frankenstein companies like Monsanto. And even though you may not plan on eating the rind of an orange, buying foods that haven’t been treated with pesticides means you’re helping keep chemicals out of the water table, rivers, and oceans

100% Grass Fed

Corn has a high level of Omega 6 that is retained by a grain fed animal. When that’s all a cow eats, you’ll be eating that Omega 6 as a result. Excessive Omega 6 in the human body is linked to high levels of bad cholesterol, clogged arteries, Alzheimer’s disease, and a host of other health problems. Keeping your intake low will do wonders for your health today and in the future.

On the other hand, humans need lots of the good Omega 3 in their system. But most don’t get enough. You can’t get it by eating grain fed meats. Hence the emphasis by the health community to eat more fish, which, when wild is full of it. How much fish do you need to eat to get what you need? A lot.

One of the other ways to go low on Omega 6 and increase the amount of Omega 3 you consume is to only purchase 100% Grass Fed meat. Grass is the key word here. It’s in the grass in the field, it’s in the seaweed in the ocean and it’s loaded with Omega 3. You can even nibble on the fat on grass fed meat and you won’t increase your level of bad cholesterol, gain weight or have a heart attack as a result.

The demand for 100% grass fed meats has been rising and thus the cost is going down. There is no official label so look for the text on the printed label placed on meat by your butcher when you purchase it.

Non GMO Project Verified

The science of Genetically Modified Organisms is far from finished in terms of how the human body handles it. GMO grains are modified by companies like Monsanto to overcome the pesticides used on them so they don’t die when the weeds do. This is serious scientific stuff that has yet to be truly studied under any government level research. It needs to be. But until it is, you don’t need to be a part of unknown science. Look for the NON GMO VERIFIED label on anything you buy containing grains. If a product is labeled USDA Organic, it automatically qualifies whether it has the non-gmo labeling or not.

While the label is awarded by a non-government agency, know that they do police those who utilize it and stick by their standards.

Certified Humane Raised and Handled

Another non-government group has gotten in on the dairy side of things. Dairy products including land meats and egg layers can be grown under various conditions. Your body does best eating ones that are humanely raised and handled, rather than those that lived in a 6’ x 6’ pen all their lives.

The Bogus

Natural

The FDA has no specifics for the use of the word "Natural." Thus, you could label just about any food with the term and sell it. You could buy chips labeled "Natural" that use GMO corn. Or cheese from cows fed nothing but GMO corn. Or snack bars that are packed with enriched flour and refined sugar. The list goes on and on. In fact, the FDA has more recently been considering not allowing the use of the term on food at all.

Organic

If a food is not certified by the USDA to be organic, how can you be sure it is? There are two reasons why some companies don’t apply for the certification. First of all, it’s expensive to get certified. Secondly, some companies that make food that would not pass the certification process, yet they produce and sell it as such. Pay attention and look for the label, not just the word.

Grass fed/grain finished

There’s no lie in this label. Some ranches will grass feed an animal through most of its life. Then they send it to a ‘finisher’ who feeds it grain for 60-120 days to fatten it up so you, the consumer, gets more marbling in your meat, which they will tell you tastes better. The problem is when you finish an animal with grain, it leaches out all the Omega 3, usually in about 60 days, and does an Omega 6 load on it instead. And the goal here is to stay away from meat full of Omega 6.

Enriched flours

There was a time when all things made with flour used whole grain flours. Eating whole grain flours means we’re getting the husk of the grain which adds fiber to our diet and puts less of a load on the pancreas to produce the insulin needed to break it down, since it breaks down slower than modern-day flour known as…

Enriched flour. Food science taught us how to mill flours so finely, they lose a lot of their nutrients in cooking. So, the health experts intervened and told us to start adding all the nutrients lost chemically later. Today’s modern flours, know as enriched flours are simply screwed up. Some states and counties now require certain food items to use enriched flours based on data that the area's population is lacking certain nutrients. Preposterous.

To avoid enriched flours, look for foods that only use whole grain flours. If you think you need those lost nutrients, consider eating the foods they come from in the first place like more fruits and vegetables and talk to your doctor for any testing you might want to run so see where you stand.

In Conclusion

There’s certainly a lot of information for you to digest and consider. We suggest you continue to learn more about the science of foods you choose to eat so you’re making the best choices for you and others who depend on you to keep them fed and healthy.

Tom Mehren/January 2018


We've worked hard to upgrade this site. Click here to notify us of any problems we need to correct.

Cash and Carry 60th Anniversary

SUBSCRIBE FREE

Subscription has its privileges - Each month Seattle DINING! publishes new features on new restaurants, food and beverage news from around the Northwest and special events. Don't miss out on these informative stories.

Sign up today for your FREE subscription and you'll get notification each month when the new issue comes on line. You'll also be the first to find out about special Seattle DINING! events.  What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

 Click here to sign up now!