How to Decipher Food Labels Bodybuilding, Exercise & Fitness, Healthy Living, Nutrition Recommended: Use a voucher code MAS5385 to save an extra 5% when shopping for supplements on iHerb. When you make the decision to live a better life and clean up your diet, you are confronted with many new decisions. One of which includes the debate between organic and conventional. People are starting to hear studies and new professional advise that may make organics an important factor for health in their “six pack abs diet”. Organic food was not considered very important by anyone in the past not labeled as a “hippie”. Really, organic food was only readily available in special health food stores. Even modern television shows tend to poke fun at the link between organic/natural food and an over the top environmentalist advocating food closer to nature. Until recently when health experts and gurus began advocating organics for everyone, the average person did not really value organics or have any interest in the topic. They just thought organics involved crazy hippies and did not pertain to them in any way. Now however, organic is suddenly a topic of interest for anyone who has even thought about improving their diet, losing weight, or obtaining a six pack. Many Entrepreneurs began to capitalize on this new organic revolution. Most grocery stores and supermarkets now carry organic food items in their stock. Marketers also, so this as a chance to make money by toying with the labels. These labels can be very confusing to the untrained eye, and this may cause you pay without really meeting the standards that you expect. If the different food labels impact your six pack abs diet, then this article will teach you the meanings behind misleading labeling, and help you choose which label best fits your plan. What exactly does it mean to be organic? Dictionary definition: Of, relating to, or derived from living matter: “organic soils”. There is more than one dictionary definition of the word organic. The one listed above most closely matches the term people are referring to when discussing produce for a six pack abs diet or any other healthy diet. However, even non organic food more likely than not is derived from living matter as well. Since the dictionary does not completely clear up the exact meaning of the term organic, it is important to know that the major difference lies in both farming and processing techniques used. My best definition related to agriculture: “A product that was manufactured according to a strict set of rules and requirements, and passes the government inspection for meeting the requirements set.” No food is considered to be organic unless they pass an inspection by a company with the power to certify them as organic. They can not bare the organic label if they cannot prove that they meet the criteria set. Since organic food is often more expensive, there have been many other labels created that are not checked for the same standards, but sound like they might be a cheaper alternative, or have the same meaning as organic. Fear not, as this article will now decipher the labeling code by providing the rules for each label. Organic– The meaning of organic follows strict regulation from government legislation. This is the strongest label of them all, but there are some misconceptions here as well. Farmers often use manure and compost as natural fertilizers, instead of synthetic sprays. One of the common misconceptions is that no sprays at all are allowed in organic farming. This is actually not the case. I personally think this should be a requirement, but I do not set the rules. Certain pesticides that are considered natural, may be used without produce losing organic status. Natural is not a synonym for safe. Mercury for example is an example of something that occurs naturally, but is generally not regarded as safe. Realize that mercury was used here as an example to make a point, not to claim that it is in organic food or that it is used as a pesticide. Both of these statements are false and should not be interpreted from this article. However, it has been proven many times that eating organic can significantly lower a persons exposure to pesticide residues. Spraying is allowed, but regulated more than conventional methods. There are other techniques that are often used in place of pesticides. Traps, beneficial birds/insects, and disruption of mating cycles are common alternatives to pesticide sprays. Mulch and weeding by hand are alternatives to herbicide sprays. Organic farmers, especially local organic farmers, usually are more concerned with how their food effects the environment and your body, and choose to use more natural methods. The animals eat organic feed, are free range, and may not contain any steroids, medicine, or antibiotics. The requirements make sure that the animals are themselves healthy and have better conditions in which to live. GMO is not allowed for anything labeled as 100 percent organic. The USDA organic seal is allowed for any product that is 95 percent organic. The 100 percent seal is reserved for 100 percent organic items. “Made with organic ingredients” is allowed for items that are 70 percent organic. For all products with a lower percentage of organic ingredients, the term organic and not be written anywhere on the label other than in the ingredients list. Conventional– This label is nothing special, and probably is not even present. There is no real need to mark anything conventional, because this is the standard farming method. If you cannot find a label, it is safe to assume that the product is conventional. You may see this label if a company expressly wants to make a clear distinction between which food is organic and which food is conventional. All forms of synthetic sprays are allowed for use on conventional produce. This includes fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Animals eat conventional grain feed, and are commonly injected with both steroids and antibiotics. These are used to keep more animals alive since they are often contained in unsanitary and unhealthy conditions. They are usually kept in crowded feed lots with little room to move, and death is common. When unhealthy animals die, the living ones often cannibalize the dead ones. There is no regulation of GMO in conventional farming. GMO is considered safe and even desired by this method. Some food such as corn, is more or less guaranteed to be GMO. Natural– This term sounds good and is often more expensive than conventional, but cheaper than organic. However, what does it really mean? The answer is nothing really. There is not really much regulation to this term at all. The claim of natural can be made for pretty much anything that is present in nature. Natural food can contain GMO even though GMO is unnatural. The argument, taking corn for example, is that corn is natural so GMO corn is labeled natural. This one can easily be used as a sales gimmick, but often the term is slightly better than conventional. It is commonly accompanied with another label that separates it from conventional, such as free range, or hormone/antibiotic free, but this is not required. Free Range– Organic food is free range, but free range does not have to be organic. One requirement for organic is that animals have the ability to exercise and roam freely at some point in the day. All the free range label means is that this particular aspect of organics is followed. Antibiotic/Hormone Free– This label cannot contain the mentioned product of which it is labeled free. It will only be free of what is listed depending on if the label says antibiotic, hormone, or both. Kosher- This label is mostly used for religious reasons. There is a strict set of rules regarding food set by the Jewish faith. Food that is kosher is checked by a Rabbi rather than the government to meet such standards. The standards are more concerned with what type of food is in question, rather than the farming methods. For example, pork will never be kosher, as this is forbidden by Jewish standards of eating. Some people who are not Jewish also want to follow a kosher diet as they may think this is the way we are supposed to eat, and it will benefit their body in some way. Some may follow a kosher diet and not know all the requirements. This label tells them what is accepted. It is often assumed that the living conditions are better for the animals, but this does not have have to be the case. Wild Caught– Animals that are wild caught are not kept in farms, but caught in the wild. This means they eat what they naturally eat, and roam freely and healthfully. This label is as good as organic in terms of avoiding any harm associated with conventional farming. It often refers to fish because conventional fish farming involves feeding fish in a crowded tank grains and soy through a shoot. This does not really make sense for naturally healthy fish, as this type of food is not even present in their naturally environment. An important note on wild caught however, is to recognize the location the animal is caught. Wild caught animals may have varying degrees of pollution, dependent on the environment they live in. Grass Fed– This is gaining popularity, but not as easy to find as the other labels. Generally, this label can be seen as a bonus, and is generally organic as well. It really only applies to an animal that naturally grazes on grass. This label means the animal eats grass (hay in the winter) instead of feed. They need to also have access to the pasture for grazing all year long. The grain in animal feed is not part of the animals natural diet. Grass fed meat is higher in nutritional value, but lower in calories when compared to their grain fed counterparts. They also contain a higher omega 3 to omega 6 ration. This means that the fat they contain are more healthy. Grass fed meat is perfect for a six pack abs diet. There is no doubt that organic is much more expensive than conventional. Many in between labels have been created that further add to your options. After reading this article, you should have the knowledge to make an informed decision on which label is best for you and your needs. It is up to you to choose what food you incorporate in your six pack abs diet, and what you believe is the best way to get a six pack. 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