Food Label Lingo

Hi GTS friends! My name is Renee and I live in Houston, Texas where I practice law and yoga in equal parts. My love of self-care led me to write a blog where I explore wellness topics related to mental health, meditation, movement and food. This week, I’m partnering with GTS to examine food labels.

Produce 101:

Buying organic food will triple your grocery bill.  I have one rule at the grocery store: buy organic if the food has a thin skin such as strawberries, grapes or blueberries.  Also, to save money, buy non-organic if the food had a thick skin like squash, oranges or pineapple. Although this rule has kept me alive for 37 years, perhaps it’s time to learn more.

An Organic Label means you’re not Eating Bioengineered Foods

An organic label means the food was made without using bioengineering, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge (gross) and must follow United States Department of Agriculture organic farming regulations. This definition seems so basic.  Of course, people don’t want to eat sewage sludge; why is it necessary to make this a rule? Does this mean non-organic food contains sewage, radiation or bioengineered ingredients?

You’ve probably Tasted Bioengineered Foods

Currently, there’s no requirement to label bioengineered food (“BE”) in grocery stores. However, I assumed that I would know which foods were BE because they would look or taste different, like tofu meat. However, BE foods are common and easily found. Here’s the USDA list of BE foods: Alfalfa, Golden Delicious apples, Fuji apples, Granny Smith apples, canola, corn, cotton, varieties of eggplant, papaya and pineapple, potato, salmon, soybean, summer squash and sugar beet.  Shocking that BE foods are prevalent in many of our diets.

USDA to Roll out BE Labels in 2020

However, big changes are coming in 2020! Starting January 1, 2020, large companies are required to label all products containing BE foods. Smaller companies and single supply companies (think sugar and honey) have an extra year to slap that BE label on their products.

Know Better, Do Better

While it’s boring to trudge through government labeling requirements, it’s important to understand what’s in our food.  Here’s hoping everyone can make informed choices at the grocery store.
Be Well,

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