Is it worth paying extra for products with an Organic, Natural, Farm Fresh or Premium Quality Organic Food label? The last time I was buying bananas at 57 cents a pound, organic bananas were priced at 97 cents a pound. Was this organic food label really worth paying an extra 40 cents a pound?
Once I started looking into the labels I discovered that the one sure thing about having organic or similar wording on a label was that it instantly increased the price of the product. Many producers saw this as an opportunity to cash in by creating a variety of labels designed to make the consumer think they were paying more for better quality, organic products, when in fact they weren’t.
Shown below are some of the labels used to market food products. It’s all very impressive but let’s just take a look at what the labels really mean.
The Organic Food Label – What’s Valid, What’s Not:
100% Organic or Certified Organic – This is the real deal. A product with this label meets the standards for organic certification set by the country of origin. Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations. (Wikipedea).
Organic – The label ‘organic’, without showing certification, can be applied to products that are 70-95% organic. Since the bananas only said organic – not certified organic – they would fall into this category.
Made with Organic Ingredients – This is pretty meaningless and not acceptable as it is not clear how much of the product is made with organic ingredients. Products with 70-95% organic content must declare the percentage of organic content on their label. Products with less than 70% organic content may only indicate which ingredients are organic in the ingredients list.
Premium Quality Organic Food – Since it doesn’t claim certification, but does claim organic, means the product must contain 70-95% organic ingredients.
Natural or All Natural – This means that nothing was changed in or added to the product itself – it does not say anything about the growing conditions or whether synthetic pesticides and/or herbicides were used. A good example here would be non-organic apples, which are all natural but on the EWG’s ‘dirty dozen’ list because they contain high levels of chemical residue.
No Hormones/Steroids Added – This label may sometimes be found on poultry products where it is absolutely meaningless since the addition of hormones and/or steroids to poultry and pork has been prohibited in Canada for the past 30 years.
Pure or 100% Pure – Can only be applied to one ingredient products. For instance, maple syrup can be 100% pure while peanut butter made with peanuts and oil (2 ingredients) can’t be.
Farm Fresh or Farm Grown – This label doesn’t explain growing conditions and, in the case of animals, what additives were given.
Grass Fed. Animals have access to outside where they graze or are fed hay. This leads to healthier, leaner animals resulting in better quality meat. Since this is not a certification we have no way of knowing what additional supplements or additives were given.
Non-GMO. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been thought to increase serious allergies in children and may be the cause of many other serious health problems. Non-GMO means the products are free of these organisms.
Thanks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for much of the above information.
I have always considered myself to be knowledgeable about reading labels and deciphering what they really mean but seeing this in black and white was still an eye-opener.
As for the bananas, they’re labeled organic, not certified, which means they are up to 30% non-organic. To me, that isn’t good enough to pay extra for and my organic designated dollars are better spent elsewhere.
Buying food under the organic food label means you are willing to pay extra for top quality, non-toxic products. Don’t be deceived and pay extra for creative organic food labels that mean absolutely nothing at all.
Talk to you again next week,
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