Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WATCH OUT: "All Natural" Claims

"If they have to put the word 'natural' on a box to convince you, it probably isn't."                          -Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

The natural food label on processed food has no standard definition and really no meaning at all. The term is only regulated on meat and poultry, for which an item labeled natural may not contain any artificial flavors, colors or chemical preservatives. But in the processed food arena, a "natural" product can be virtually anything -- genetically modified, full of pesticides, made with corn syrup, additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
So if you've ever wondered how heavily processed foods like 7-Up, Cheetos, and potato chips can claim to be "natural," that's how.
The main point is that as it stands, in the United States a food can be labeled 100% natural even if it contains GM ingredients. 
The problem with GM ingredients infiltrating the food supply are two-fold. First are the manufacturers like ConAgra, who intentionally use GM corn, GM soy and other GM ingredients but "greenwash" their labels to keep it quiet. Then there is the problem of GM contamination, which is becoming progressively more difficult to control.
If you've followed the debate about genetically engineered crops for some time, you may remember that the USDA initially proposed that the organic rules should allow GM foods to be labeled organic. Fortunately, the public outcry stopped this atrocious proposal. In fact, it was the second largest citizen response up until that time for any proposed regulation. After several hearings around the United States, the final organic rule did not allow for GM ingredients. (Original Source)
Since the U.S. government prevents the labeling of GM foods, it's imperative to educate yourself on what they are, and to help spread awareness. First and foremost, avoid most processed foods, unless it's labeled USDA 100% Organic.  You can also avoid GM foods that are not found in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Sugar from sugar beets
  • Hawaiian  Papaya
  • Zucchini- some varieties
  • Crookneck squash
Independent third-party testing revealed that many trusted "natural" brands contain genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans—including brands enrolled in the Non-GMO Project like:

  • Kashi
  • Mother's
  • Nutritious Living
  • General Mills Kix
  • Go Lean
  • Bumpers
  • Hi-Lo

We don't know how genetically modified foods will effect us in the long run, however, if you just consider who controls most of the genetically modified seeds and pesticides (Monsanto- just take a look at the results from Google searching their name) you could make the inference that they do not care about the results (despite the image they portray on their website). Monsanto has a monopoly which is aided by our government (USDA). I have said it before...I am not anti-big-business. I am anti-big-business-in-bed-with-government. This causes disastrous results. 

Cut out as many processed foods as you can, and if you have to buy processed foods buy organic. But don't forget that when you buy organic you still have to check labels!

Does this freak you out at all? or do you think we have nothing to worry about?

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