Hey organic cocktail lovers. We hope everyone had a happy New Year and set good intentions for yourself and those you encounter in 2015. Good vibes all around!
It's a new year and more people are becoming more interested in what they eat, but we noticed that many people today are being misled by the buzzwords used on food packaging in our local supermarkets and grocery stores. On a mission to get everyone we know to choose organic options, we decided to give you the 411 on packages labeled "Natural" or "All Natural” when purchasing food at the grocery store. There are other buzzwords too (the buzz on buzzwords from our favorite blogger), however, we were inspired to create this post after we stumbled upon an article about the grocery store that could steal the #1 spot in selling organic foods, knocking Whole Foods down to #2. The headline read, "Popular Grocery Store Chain Doubles down on Organics, Could Steal #1 Spot from Whole Foods Soon". We just had to learn more.
With inspired curiosity, we discovered that Kroger is the master grocery looking to take over the organic grocery game. The Cincinnati, Ohio based grocery company is very popular here in Atlanta, and we love the idea of selling organic options for Kroger shoppers. While reading more about how Kroger, the grocery store that could possibly snatch the crown from the organic grocery King, midway the article reads:
"Kroger introduced its "Simple Truth" line of natural and organic groceries in 2012, and while the natural product still contain at risk ingredients that are likely to be genetically modified the brand has been a great success."
Umm what?! Kroger knowing sells genetically modified products and labels them "natural" instead and won't label them to "contain GMOs?" That's sneaky! We don't believe it's fair for those consumers who try to make conscious and responsible decisions about what they put into their bodies to be fooled into consuming GMOs by implying otherwise. Consumers buy "natural" because they assume it's the healthier option and they assume that the ingredients are safe. The truth is, unless it's labeled "ORGANIC" you can't really trust what’s being put your food packages.
It disappointing to say that when it comes to food and drinks, the word "natural" doesn’t mean to much of anything. The word “natural” is not regulated and/or the regulations are not enforced. According to the USDA, they regulate and define food labeling as:
Natural: Does not contain artifical ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are only minimally processed. However, they may contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and other similar chemicals.
Regulations are fairly lenient for foods labeled "natural." Producers must submit a sort of application at the time of slaughter, detailing practices used throughout the life of the animal. Labels are evaluated to prevent mislabeling but no inspections are conducted and producers are not required to be certified.
Organic: Foods labeled "organic" must consist of at least 95% organically produced ingredients and the other 5% must be approved on the National List provided by the USDA. They cannot be produced with any antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, petroleum or sewage-sludge based fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Each organic ingredient must be identified along with the name of the certifying agency.
100% Organic: Foods labeled "100% organic" must consist of only organic ingredients and processing aids. The same controls and regulations are put in place as those used for foods labeled "organic."
The USDA regulates organic product labels much more thoroughly than they do other product labels and, hence, foods labeled "organic" are more likely to actually be organic. Producers of organic foods must submit an application for certification. This application must include the type of operation, substance history for the past three years of operation, organic products to be grown, raised, and produced, and their plan for practices and substance use. Furthermore, they must keep records for five years after certification and make all information and records available to the National Organic Program (NOP), the division of the USDA which deals with organic production. Before certification, an on-site inspection is conducted with continuing annual and unannounced inspections after certification. If it is found that a product has been knowingly mislabeled, there is a civil penalty of up to $11,000.
We understand how puzzling it can be when trying to read labels, figuring out what’s good and what’s not. Consuming contaminated (GMOs) and artificial ingredients is just as unnecessary as those ingredients themselves. The next time you’re in Kroger, pay attention! If you’re looking to buy organic, you may want to look twice at the packaging. You don’t want to get home only to realize you unknowingly bought a product filled with unsafe ingredients. There is a difference in their “Simple Truth” line. And it’s easy to miss so here’s a comparison of Kroger’s “Simply Truth” NOTICE THE GREEN "Simple Truth" LOGO. One says "Organic" the other one doesn't.
Organic vs. Natural