Let me start this off with a passage I read recently that really resonated with me;
“If something is designed and packaged to live a long time on a shelf, then it’s likely designed to do the same in your body.”
You may already know that I’m generally not a fan of packaged foods, and in an ideal world I wouldn’t eat any at all. But if I’m being realistic, living as a marketing professional, on the east coast, in downtown Toronto… time is sparse. And as such, preparing fresh foods isn’t always a regular convenience for me.
Never mind the fact that there are packaged foods I don’t ever want to picture my life without, like Terra Chips, Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flakes, Nuts to You Almond Butter + many, many more.
At the end of the day though, grocery shelves are STOCKED with endless rows of established products/brands, plus new ones that are coming to market all the time. And navigating the ingredient list is like a full time job at this point, right?
How to easily navigate food packaging with non-GMO, USDA Organic labels + more.
Ok so, in North America, we’re pretty hashtag blessed #BLESSED to have industry standards and regulating bodies that make buying Organic and non-GMO easy.
You’ve seen labels like this before, right?
Good to know, is that by law, companies & brands are not allowed to use the words “100% / Certified Organic” if the food contains any GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Canadian and United States government mandate it.
The Non GMO Project (nongmoproject.org) has this label (below) which is probably the best, most surefire way to ensure what you’re buying is legit, 100% GMO-free.
But what does buying non GMO actually mean?
So, what many people may not know, is that the definition of non GMO as it relates to your food, actually has nothing to do with the food being organic or inorganic.
Non GMO simply means that the food / produce, does not contain any genetically modified organisms. Plain and simple. Nothing more, nothing less.
Non GMO DOES NOT MEAN that what you’re buying is organic. Not necessarily, anyway.
Packaged foods and produce that have the non GMO label, CAN STILL BE made/raised with the use of non-organic ingredients, as well as chemicals and synthetic pesticides.
Organic vs Non Organic – what are the differences?
Many of you know by now, I’m sure, but for those who don’t, organic foods are foods that are grown / made without the use of:
- Human waste or sewer sludge (yep, seriously)
- Drugs and/or antibiotics
** CERTIFIED ORGANIC FOODS ARE ALSO NON-GMO ** and only when you see 100% certified organic can you be certain it does not contain any GMOs or herbicides, pesticides etc.
The biggest benefit of buying organic is ensuring that you do not consume any synthetic pesticides and/or pesticide residue. Many of which have been linked to diseases like leukemia and lymphoma. As well as carcinogens and toxins.
Fact: 100% certified organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic pesticides.
Fact: Exclusively non-GMO crops CAN be raised with the use of synthetic pesticides.
Foods that are non-organic, most often fresh produce, are usually if not exclusively, raised and grown with some sort of chemical herbicide or pesticide.
Buying 100% organic, by default ensures that no GMOs were used.
Good to remember, is that USDA Organic and non GMO are VERY separate from one another. However, if something is 100% certified USDA Organic, it is by default also, non-GMO.
So what does this all boil down to?
Like I said, navigating packaged food labels is like a full time job these days. Get it down packed the first time, and stress less about navigating while you shop.
Certified Organic means AT LEAST 95% of ingredients used are organic (excluding water + salt). But what’s great/safe about these labeled items, is that the remaining 5% of ingredients need to come from a pre-approved list by the USDA. Though, worth noting, these items do not necessarily HAVE to be non-GMO.
Made with Organic means these foods are made with UP TO 70% organic ingredients – and by law cannot carry the USDA Organic or non-GMO labels.
I’ll finish off with another passage that I’d heard a while back:
“Don’t buy your groceries based on price, otherwise you’ll always default to the cheapest alternatives, which are often packed with chemicals and preservatives. Instead, buy your groceries based on HEALTH BENEFITS.”
This ensures you’re looking out for foods that will (hopefully) heal your body.
Buying groceries in a store has a much larger scale impact than simply the dollar figure you pay.
Every decision you make in a grocery store, as it relates to what you purchase, shapes the food industry, it shapes farm production, supply and demand, the state of health of the country, your personal state of health, supporting local vs non-local, the fair trade industry… etc etc etc.
Starting small (by buying foods that are good for your body – USDA Organic and non-GMO), leads to a bigger positive impact on the environment, and ultimately your personal health, as well as the health of future generations.
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick