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What Do Food Labels Really Mean?

What Do Food Labels Really Mean?
On the list of #FirstWorldProblems, the anxiety that comes from facing a grocery store cereal aisle with 438* different options has to rank right up near the top, but it is oh-so real. (*Not a scientifically valid calculation)
It’s the first meal of the day for you or maybe your kids. It’s what’s supposed to get the day started off on the right foot, get the brain firing on all cylinders, or even get you on the way to racking up your daily vitamins and minerals. You care about doing right by your kids and you also care about doing right by the environment so they have a better future. You don’t want to screw it up . . . but there are Just. So. Many. Options.
Consumer
We’re not going to wade into the discussion about which is better: the mom-preferred flavorless crunchy flakes or the kid-preferred delicious, sugar-coated, marshmallow-ey, secret-prize stuffed goodness. We want to talk about the less controversial stuff — all those buzzwords you see on the labels related to how the food was produced that make it really hard to figure out if you’re making the right choice.

Organic! Non-GMO! Sustainably produced! Heart Healthy! Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals! Whole grain! Or, maybe best of all, natural or all natural? Do you yearn, just a bit, for the days when the big choice was which gossip mag to grab at the checkout?

The truth is, these terms carry different significance to different people. Some equate “organic” with healthy, while others align it with being eco-friendly — and for some, it’s just more expensive. All the options look similar, and everyone around you has a different opinion. But what do the terms actually, you know, mean? We’re here to break it down for you before you shop.

The good news is there are different strokes for different folks, and they all have their costs and benefits. The bad news is that you’re probably not likely to see a reduction in your cereal options at your supermarket any time soon.

The best news is that now you know a little more about what some of these terms mean so you can invest your time and energy on the real important matters — tasteless flakes or sugary goodness!

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Marta Lidia Ramírez
January 25, 2019 - 06:58 PM

Lo que siempre me desconcierta es que siempre el producto orgánico luce más grande y cómo hacen posible habrá algún cambio en el crecimiento de los vegetales sin ser alterado cuando es orgánico realmente.

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Farm Meets Table Team
January 28, 2019 - 06:59 PM

Hi Marta — thanks for the comment. We're actually working on a piece about this exact topic, so stay tuned! Spoiler alert: the differences in how fruits and vegetables look has more to do with their breeding than if they are produced with conventional or organic farming.

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Guido Baldoni
January 20, 2019 - 02:10 PM

Not all natural composts are beneficials to man or the environment. You could have shown the example of mycotoxins in cereals or the alkaloids in Solanaceae. Beside, not all man-made pesticides are toxic . For example, synthetic deltametrines are purer (and thus less dangerous) than natural ones. Moreover organic products may contain more risky elements than those obtained in conventional farming (e.g. Cu). GMO use is best solution to reduce food contamination and environmental impact. It is a pity that yours (that included Monsanto) is the only Company that can perform such an expensive research. Pay attention to Biodiversity!

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Farm Meets Table Team
January 22, 2019 - 08:22 PM

Thank you for adding this important perspective, Guido. We think it shows the importance of having a science-based regulatory system that people can trust and that puts risk in a proper context.

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