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Decoding Food Labeling

Decoding Food Labeling

“Those old habits don’t have to be erased, they just become replaced by a new habit that is more in vibrational harmony with who you are and what you want.” ~ Abraham Hicks

 

 

 

It can be quite confusing trying to figure out what a food label means and if it’s really worth it for the extra money. Below you’ll find explanations to help your food shopping trips be less Divinci Code and more shopping. 

All Natural 

In the United States, this means absolutellyyy nada. Nothing. Very sad but it is true. There are extremely few regulations on labeling something ‘natural’. As an example of how lackidaisy our labeling is, in Total Blueberry & Pomegranate cereal, there are NO blueberries nor pomegranates. None. Food labeling in the U.S. can be very far from what is actually in the food so you can completely ignore ‘all natural’ or what it says on the front for that matter. Always check the ingredients. In other countries such as the U.K. or Canada the rules are a bit stricter to have a label that says ‘all natural’ but I would still go the extra step to find organic. 

Organic

Vegetables that are labeled organic are grown from organic seeds so you can be sure they are not genetically modified seeds- huge plus! They are not sprayed with chemicals & pesticides and they taste 10x better than conventional. Organic meats/dairy are moving in the right direction, they are not given any hormones or antibiotics. They are fed organic feed but unfortunately many times this feed is still grain, soy or wheat, and not grass. USDA organic labeling is not perfect but does have many regulations to allow a product to be labeled organic and I am very grateful for it.

Farm – Raised

You will typically find this labeled on fish. Farm-raised fish are fed pellets consisting of chicken feces, corn meal, soy, genetically modified canola oil and other fish pieces. They are given more antibiotics than any other livestock and are crowded into such small areas of movement that is causes disease. They even end up the wrong color so are fed chemicals to CHANGE the color to look more like the originally intended fish. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. See Wild below for a better option!

Cage-Free

This labeling is typically for chickens. It means they are not kept in cages; however, the USDA says that to be labeled cage-free they only need to have access to outdoor space and doesn’t specify how big or for how long they have access. For this reason I recommend you find a local farmer where you can see how the chickens live. My eggs come from chickens who get leftovers of the farm’s greens and have plenty of space all day long to go outside if they want to.  The eggs are washed with water, not chemicals and are sold & consumed within days. A trip to a local farm is also very eye-opening to see exactly where your food is coming from.

Grass Fed / Grass-Finished / Pasture-Raised

Meat that is grass-fed is just that, animals that eat what they are supposed to eat: grass! Though keep in mind grass-fed animals can be finished with corn, grains, etc to fatten up at the end of their lives. Even better is meat that is grass-finished. This means they are fed grass & forage diet their entire lives, all the way to the end. Meat that is pasture-raised is the best, soaking up Vitamin D from the sun, picking the foods they want to eat from the land and roaming around at their leisure. 

Humane Raised

This is the highest standard for meat quality of animals kept in captivity (not wild). It refers to where the animal lives, what it eats and how it is handled by humans. Not only are the animals outside and eating grass but they are able to act naturally in their environment, given lots of space, nursed by their mothers when born, humanely handled and processed in a conscientious slaughterhouse. This means (if you’ve ever watched Food Inc you will know what I mean) that the animal doesn’t watch it’s friend get slaughtered in front of him we they wait in line. Quite traumatic. 

Wild

This label is pretty self-explanatory. Any animals that have lived their lives in the wild. Fish, elk, deer, venison or boar are some of the wild animals we see on menus in the U.S. Wild animals, like wild fruit & veggies, need to build their own protective systems against predators. They are very strong, resilient, lean, and obviously eating what they are supposed to out in the wild. If you are a meat eater, wild is the #1 option.

 

Fast fact: The labeling in the U.S. can be quite confusing and at times deceiving. The all natural label has barely any regulations so always look for organic. For eggs the best option is to find a local farm, there are many more than you’d think. If you are a meat or fish eater the best option is humane raised or wild.

Action: Cook a meal with high quality foods and pay attention to the immense difference in taste. It will be hard to go back  :)

 

Love and brussels sprouts, 

  

  1. Marie-Helene says:

    Thank you very much, this is very useful information.

    Namaste

  2. Allison says:

    Brenna – this is so so helpful! I’ve always wondered which label was the best. The term ‘all natural’ is so overused, very misleading!

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