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Signs of the Times, Food Labels to Know

Unknown-1I know it has been a while since I have last posted, but I’ve got a good excuse. I’ve been in school. I have been in a year-long certificate course from the University of Washington in Food, Health and Wellness. I started last fall, taking Nutrition. I just finished Molecular Gastronomy and I am about to start Sports Nutrition, which will finish in June.

The inspiration for this post has come from my local super market. Formerly Top Foods, now known as Haggen, the Olympia store has been making some changes I have noticed and certainly appreciate. For one, the organic fruit and vegetable section has grown considerably in the last year. Organics now take up almost 50% of the produce section.  I also value their country of origin signs, sometimes specifically noting city and farm origin. This store has an impressive selection of fresh produce.  I often see new and exotic items, not often found in Safeway or other grocers. Bright and colorful displays are always being manned, stocked and freshened up by the produce team. The department is always clean and fresh looking, with the seasonal items being highlighted in big displays.

IMG_1967An additional change I have noticed lately is the visibility of the Non-GMO Project Verified label on the shelf price tags.  This tag tells customers that specific items are a non-GMO product, IE: they do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). There is much controversy around GMO’s, here are a few facts that have been scientifically proven by organizations other than Monsanto.

GMO’s can be toxic, allergenic and less nutritious.  They are not adequately regulated to ensure safety, nor do they increase crop yield potential.  They don’t reduce pesticide use but actually increase it.  And GMO’s cannot solve the problem of world hunger and may actually distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.


With more and more findings everyday that prove GMO’s are not only everywhere in our food, but bad for us and the world, I have chosen to purchase organic and Non-GMO products.  But how do I know if the products I choose are safe, you ask?  Start by educating yourself, be curious, and ask questions. Know what brands are “in bed” with Monsanto and therefore contain GMO’s.  Unfortunately, the FDA ultimately approved the use of GMO’s, and most major food companies elected put GMO’s into their products. This includes nearly all companies associated with the Grocers Manufactures Association, such as Betty Crocker, Nabisco, Coca Cola, Duncan Hines, Pepsi, General Mills, Hunts, Stoffers, and Kellogs just to name a few.

IMG_1969The Non-GMO Project label is becoming a recognizable sign of products you can trust.  But who are they? (Taken from their web site.) The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. We believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms.


Unknown-2Two labels that are making safe food choices more identifiable are: the USDA Organic label and the Non-GMO Project label.  The USDA Organic symbol guarantees that the product is AT LEAST 95% organic.  Unless the product has this symbol, it’s organic content is questionable.  Yes, manufactures can lie and often do.  For the low down on specific terminology, visit: http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-201

The USDA Organic image is more for packaged goods, produce advertised as organic, is.  Fruits and vegetables don’t need this specific label to be organic. But packaged goods do need it.

As I mentioned above, the Non-GMO Project Verified label is also a symbol to look out for.  The verification seal indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through a specific verification process. The verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance, such as:

  • Ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients—any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product.
  • Action Threshold of 0.9%. This is in alignment with laws in the European Union, where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled.
  • Absence of all GMOs is the target for all Non-GMO Project Standard compliant products. Continuous improvement practices toward achieving this goal must be part of the Participant’s quality management systems.

IMG_1970We have come to a time and place, where we need to research our food.  It’s not as simple or as safe as it used to be.  GMO’s are bad for you! Anyone telling you different is simply uninformed, or they are working for (and being paid by) Monsanto or a similar company.  Listen up Washington – all those ads against labeling GMO’s were paid for by Monsanto, the Grocers Manufactures Association and their food groups.  All those farmers, doctors and people were being paid to tell you GMO’s are safe.  These companies care nothing for the well-being and health of our country.  GMO’s are labeled in every other country but ours. Why is that?  The bottom line is their bank account.  This cold and hard truth often gets me rather down and I question the morals and integrity of people in general.  I sincerely don’t understand why the choice was made to put questionable things (that have not been properly tested) into our food supply.

Be that as it may, we need to accept “what is” and do the research if we don’t want crap in our food.  These two labels are a start.  They make it easier for people like you and me to identify safe food. And just keep in mind that life is about balance and choice.  When armed with the facts, we can make intelligent and informed decisions.

Bon Appétit

PS – please note, on the two raw honey product photos, both symbols are on the packaging.  The USDA Organic sign is on the front, right hand side and the Non-GMO label is on the back, right hand side!

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