Is The Food You’re Buying Really Healthy, Natural or Organic?
People flock to health food stores or healthy sections of their local supermarket and spend a fortune on products which are labeled as ‘healthy’, ‘organic’, ‘natural’ or ‘naturally grown’. If that’s you, I have a surprise in (your) store. Thanks to government meddling by agencies trying to be sure that foods advertised as ‘health’, ‘healthy’, ‘organic’, ‘natural’ or ‘naturally grown’ are really what they claim to be, many of these products are as far removed from the reality of those descriptions as food fast would be.
To understand the way these food products are classified, you have to know a little about the way the U.S. Government determines whether a product meets their guidelines when it comes to being healthy, organic, natural or naturally grown. In many cases, this process is an extremely convoluted one which allows for all kinds of descriptive license as long as each product is grown, handled, produced or delivered in a manner which meets the criteria of being healthy, organic, natural or naturally grown as far as the government is concerned; and that determination is no guarantee that the product is good for you.
Just to give you an example of how the labeling and description process policed by the government can easily be manipulated by food producers, let’s look at how a 'natural, healthy and organic’ tomato sauce can end up with a label that allows those descriptions. It’s natural if the tomatoes used for the sauce are grown in the ground, not necessarily by a soiless or hot house process. However, those tomatoes can be grown in a hot house as long as they are grown in the ground. They can even be soiless in some instances, as long as they meet the criteria of being grown in a government approved manner or process which is considered hydroponic.
A tomato can be considered natural and healthy if it meets the USDA description for a tomato grown or produced in the USA according to government regulations. A tomato or tomato product can be still considered natural and healthy even if it is imported, as long as paperwork is filed which states that the fruit has been grown in a manner which is consummate with USDA regulations for growing tomatoes. The importer does not have to actually prove that USDA procedures were followed by the originating grower or producer, they just have to state that the procedures were followed. If someone complains sometime later, only then will an investigation or request for more proof be instituted or required. Because tomatoes are considered a fruit, not a vegetable, the approval process is even simpler.
When it comes to the term ‘organic’, the U.S. Government regulations for labeling and description are a little more stringent, but also equally ridiculous when it comes to how they decide if a product is organic or contains products which are organically produced. For example, almost any fruit or vegetable grown by traditional means is considered organic. According to the USDA, “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.
Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.” Despite that lengthy and seemingly sensible description for organic foods, almost every one of those stipulations can be overcome by growers and producers with a little ingenuity and by filing the right government paperwork.
If you really want something to think about, consider what it takes to get a ‘green’ rating on almost any product from the U.S. Government. A food product can receive a green rating or be considered environmentally safe and friendly as long as certain procedures are followed somewhere in the growth or production process. For example, all hand-picked fruits and vegetables would basically qualify for a green rating. If someone has to hand water an agriculture product using anything from a garden hose to a watering system that can be turned on and off by hand, it’s green (even if the watering system is never actually turned on or off by human hands).
Before you buy any food item thinking that you are getting something that is healthy, organic or naturally grown, consider the fact that something as simple as using natural sugar or fructose instead of corn syrup can make a product ‘healthy’. That is not to say that products sweetened with corn syrup (like most flavored soda and many fruit juices) are not healthy or cannot also be labeled as organic, or even naturally grown as long as the correct paperwork is filed. In reality, more than a few respected researchers now believe that most items sweetened with corn syrup may be helping to add to America’s growing obesity problem thanks to the way in which our bodies process the corn syrup. Again, buyer beware when it comes to simply accepting what any label in a store claims.