By Shastin Grace
Most of us try to be conscious of what we buy and eat—especially when feeding our families and young ones. What most people do not realize, however, is that many of the foods marketed as ‘natural health foods’ are often not certified organic at all and may contain GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients.
The word ‘natural’ has no legal definition and therefore many companies—especially ones that use GMO ingredients—use this term widely to promote their products and persuade people to become loyal consumers. In today’s world of gimmicks and hidden ingredients, it is imperative that we become aware of the ‘tricks of the trade’ and how to choose wisely what we eat and what we are ‘voting’ for with our pocketbooks.
In 2011, independent organization, Cornucopia Institute reviewed numerous cereals on the natural foods aisle and tested them for GMO ingredients and pesticide residues. What they found was shocking. Many of the brands that formerly carried the organic seal (including Kashi, Barbara’s, Annie’s and Peace Cereal) were now simply labeled ‘natural’, had detectible pesticide residue and some contained up to 50 percent or more GMO ingredients! Watch video here: Cereal Crimes Video from Cornucopia
The organic certification process requires companies to use ingredients that are free of pesticides and GMO ingredients. The companies who go through the process to get their products organically sealed are taking the extra step to ensure their product is safe and they are paying an extra fee to assure their customers of that fact. On the other hand, the term ‘natural’ means absolutely nothing and doesn’t ensure any kind of safety about the product or its ingredients.
It can seem an overwhelming task to choose safe foods for ourselves and our loved ones. Many times larger corporations buy out smaller companies and keep the packaging the same even though the ingredients have changed and may no longer be certified organic.
Some simple things to watch for when shopping:
1.) The organic seal. This is usually the green USDA organic seal but each state has its own organic seal as well and many of them are even more strict than the USDA. This means that the all ingredients have been verified as organic. It is common for products to list several organic ingredients but this does NOT mean that all the ingredients are organic so look for the organic seals!
2.) The Non-GMO Project seal. This is a small seal carried on products that may not be certified organic but have submitted their ingredients for GMO testing. These products still may contain conventional ingredients and so pesticide and chemical residues are still a factor.
3.) Top GMO Ingredients. The top crops that are being genetically modified are corn, soy and sugar beets. These crops are typically cheaper for companies to buy because they are subsidized by the government. Any products that contain these ingredients are suspect.
4.) Check ingredients! Yes you may be familiar with a product and just assume that it will always remain the same and keep the same good ingredients but beware. As I mentioned above smaller organic companies are being bought up by larger corporations all the time. The packaging often remains the same even when the organic seal is removed and so it is always a good idea to double check!!
For more up to date information check out the Cornucopia Institute online at: http://www.cornucopia.org/
Also check out their scorecards on cereals: http://cornucopia.org/cereal-scorecard/
Here is a list of links used in this post if you want to read further: