Good food is so important to good health. Our bodies use the components of the food we eat for energy and metabolism as well as to repair and heal. This is why it is important to give the body good food to work with. Good organic food and cleaning up your diet is an excellent compliment to your chiropractic care as it helps to reduce inflammation in the body and helps you to heal more efficiently. Think of it like buying good building materials for a home project! If you use cheap fake products the project will fall apart with any wear and tear, need more repairs and not last as long, your body is the same!
As I started to work on this month’s biohack I realized my biggest struggle was going to be how much information there is out there on food and how it impacts our health and our communities as well. What and how we eat may be one of the biggest ways to address our health and longevity. Yet part of the problem is just HOW MUCH information is out there. With so many terms being common in today’s health-conscious culture, like “gluten free,” “all-natural,” “no-additives,” etc., it can be tough to determine what they all mean. In an effort to narrow down this vast topic I decided to focus on discussing organic food, some of the benefits to eating organic and the difference between the labels USDA ORGANIC and NON-GMO.
Food and what we eat is very important to many of our Desert Valley Chiropractic patients and ourselves as a family. However so is how and where we spend our money! Family farms are small business and by supporting them we are creating a demand for what is often a better quality and more humane food system. We are also keeping our dollars working to better our local economy. This is another reason we like to shop organic and local when we can. One of our favorites is the Uptown Farmers market in Central Phoenix, there are a variety of vendors there selling local organic produce. Budgeting and how we spend our money is also where the labeling system can come into play, many of us are willing to pay that little extra when it means we are feeding our families better food that leads to better health. Good food can be expensive, but the sick care side of the healthcare system is even more expensive! However sometimes we just end up over paying for a product that has used their label as a marketing tool more than a true reflection of quality ingredients.
When you’re comparing products at the grocery store, you might be wondering—what’s the difference between these two labels, and what do they mean in terms of GMO avoidance and eating organic? Here’s a general overview of the two labels and their verification processes
What Does Organic Mean?
Organic food is produced without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. The use of insecticides and herbicides reduce weeds and insects in crops fertilizers are used to enhance soil nutrients where they may be lacking. Organic agriculture aims to cycle resources to promote ecological balance and preserve biodiversity. Many studies show that organically gown produce contains higher nutrient profiles than conventional counterparts. This is largely due to soil conditions Prior to World War II agriculture followed the principles we now call organic. Many insecticides were neurotoxins developed from the same nerve gases used in WWII. This is why they are so toxic to handle and require special garments and equipment. These pesticides are also toxic enough that there are guidelines regarding when they can be sprayed in relation to harvest. These toxins and their residue becomes a whole health topic to its self that I encourage you to learn more about!
The National Organic Program is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Their organic certification is a process-based certification that requires farmers and producers to follow approved methods in order to achieve organic certification. GMOs are prohibited from certified organic products, which means farmers are not allowed to grow produce from GMO seeds, their animals can’t eat GMO feed, and organic food producers can’t use GMO ingredients. There are differing degrees of organic certification. Some foods may be 100% organic, while other foods may just be made with organic ingredients. Either way, the basic definition of organic means there has been no chemical or artificial ingredients used in the production of the food, including pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, or fertilizers. Organic is also usually non-GMO as well, although there some loopholes that can compromise a food’s non-GMO status. Generally, when you purchase food with a USDA Certified Organic label , it means that food is 95-100% organic, with ingredients free of well-known contaminants and hormones. It also means that in order for a company to use that USDA certified organic label, they must undergo annual third party inspections and reviews, along with residue testing if inspectors feel the situation warrants it. That’s not to say that there aren’t some problems with organic labeling. Some foods labeled organic still contain hidden additives that aren’t organic material. Always do your homework when you can before making decisions that could affect your health.
What Does Non GMO Mean?
GMO refers to an organism or food product that has been genetically modified. In other words, it did not develop naturally. When a food claims non-GMO status, they are basically saying they didn’t use ingredients that were genetically modified and it doesn’t come from livestock that have been fed genetically modified foods. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization that independently offers GMO test verification and labeling for non-GMO products. Their verification is process-based, using traceability, segregation, and testing to ensure compliance with their standards. Companies looking to receive the Non-GMO Project stamp must follow the project’s standards of best practices and have product testing conducted at various stages of production, anywhere from the field to the packaging facility.
Despite their inspection process, the project can’t legally claim products to be “GMO free” because the contamination risks to seeds, crops, and ingredients are too high. However, they’re the only organization offering independent verification of testing for GMO products in the US and Canada. However, when you see products like water, which has no genetic material, is labeled “non-GMO,” that should raise a red flag so that you look a little more deeply at what you’re actually purchasing or more importantly being marketed to buy. Additionally, the Non-GMO Project Verified label doesn’t mean there are absolutely no GMOs present. It means companies have submitted to the Non-GMO Project’s standards and have undergone their testing requirements, but there are still limits to those tests. Products labeled non-GMO could still have up to 0.9 percent genetically modified material.
The biggest takeaway you need to know between organic foods and non-GMO foods is that organic foods are almost always also non-GMO. Almost always, not always. Look for labels that state 100% USDA certified organic if you want to be as sure as possible. However, the same thing cannot be said for non-GMO foods. They are definitely not always organic. Also, there are many companies who use non-GMO labels in a way that is misleading. Simply saying something is non-GMO doesn’t make it so. It doesn’t necessarily mean the company isn’t being truthful, but obtaining the necessary certifications can be cost-prohibitive, especially for smaller companies. So, sometimes companies will put something on a label that isn’t necessarily certified.
Since you can’t be sure non-GMO foods are always organic, it’s a much safer bet to shop organic. Then you can be reasonably certain that most of your organic foods will also be free of GMOs as well. Look for the USDA Certified Organic label it is a little green-and-white label stating USDA Organic. When shopping, that’s the label you should look for. Moral of the story? Yes, organic usually means non-GMO. But be careful, because non-GMO does not always mean organic. Shop wisely.