organic

The facts on natural flavoring vs artificial flavoring

The Code of Federal Regulations (which is considered part of the administrative law and under Title 21 lies the FDA) considers natural flavorings to be anything containing: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

Artificial flavors are chemicals made from scratch by “flavorists” using chemicals in labs. Natural flavors are also made in a lab and have the potential to be more accurate to the real taste of a specific food but messing with any of the above listed ingredients under the FDA guidelines for natural flavorings is expensive and the results are inconsistent. Creating an artificial flavor requires a chemist to control every step of the flavor’s development that in the end costs less and is more consistent. 

In the end both natural and artificial flavorings are made in a lab and you are better off staying away from them. Avoiding foods with any added flavor can be as simple as this: instead of buying club soda or sparkling water that is flavored with natural and/or artificial flavorings, buy plain club soda and add a lemon or lime or whatever fruit flavor sounds good.

How To Navigate The Grocery Store

Shop outside of your grocery stores isles. Have you ever noticed that the isles of your grocery store contain all the packaged goods, processed foods and junk food? The whole foods are located on the outskirts of the isles and this is where you want to be! Visit and become fond of your produce section. Fruits and vegetable are full of micronutrients that you can’t find in processed boxed goods. The closer you can get to the “whole food” meaning from the ground to your plate the more nutrients and quality you’re getting in every bite.

Natural vs Organic Foods

When reading labels there are some consumer marketing techniques that we are unaware of and shock us all. Anything that says “all natural” means it can contain: pesticides, herbicides, toxic heavy metals, toxic fluoride, hidden monosodium glutamate (MSG) and other non natural substances. 

Stating that a product is “all natural” is extremely misleading, so here are the facts. Even if you shop at Whole Foods, PCC, Trader Joe’s or your local grocery market with a natural section beware of these “natural” products. Natural is not organic and has no guideline to be coined the term “natural” except for that it once came out of the ground. Whatever happens between the growing process and to your table is not regulated by the USDA. 

Anything listed as “made with organic…” means that only 70% of the ingredients have to be organic and it cannot use the USDA organic label. 

Anything that has the green or black USDA organic label means that 95% of the ingredients are organic. Non-organic ingredients are allowed in the remaining 5% excluding salt and water. Anytime you see the green USDA organic stamp, you can be assured that the organic product was made without the use of pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. 

If you read a label that says “100% organic” it means exactly that. USDA can certify that every last ingredient is organic.

3 Food Groups to Buy Organic

If you’re going the organic route, here’s 3 food groups I would spend the extra money on by buying organic. Going organic does cost more up front but the long term health benefits are invaluable. 

1. PRODUCE

Fruits and vegetables have penetrable skins which means not only are pesticides and herbicides coated on the outside but carried into the membranes of fruits andvegetables. Although washing the outside of your fruit may remove some of these pesticides and herbicides, the body still ingests many toxic chemicals that shouldn’t be consumed in the human diet. 

List of fruits and vegetables to buy organic: 
Apples
Berries
Grapes
Peaches
Celery
Spinach
Bell Pepper
Potatoes
Cucumbers
Lettuce

List of fruits and vegetables that are lower in pesticides and okay to buy non-organic: 
Grapefruit
Pineapple
Mangoes
Onion
Avocado
Asparagus
Eggplant
Squash
Corn 

2. DAIRY

Animals raised on organic farms are not allowed to be fed antibiotics, the bovine human growth hormone (rbGH), or other artificial drugs. Animals are also not allowed to eat genetically modified foods (GMO’s). USDA certified organic dairy products ensure that the animal lived in a healthy environment, was fed organic feed, and often eat a wide variety of foods rather than animals raised in factory farms.

3. MEAT

USDA certified organic meat means that the animals were fed with 100% chemical free grasses or grains, the animals were never given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed other animal byproduct and the animals were given access to an outdoor environment. Another big reason to buy organic meat is that cloned meat is currently out on the market and the only way to know that you're not eating meat that was cloned is to buy organic. Cloning is a relatively new concept in food science and scientist don't know what the true health risks are so don't take the risk in eating meat that has been cloned! Always be a smart shopper and know that meat labeled as 100% “natural” does not mean it’s organic.