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Lifestyle Choices for Wellness

Timely discussion on topics of health and wellness to encourage action and improvement in personal wellness.

07/15/2013-Food Packaging: Buzzwords!


Yet another weekend has come and gone. Amongst all of the summertime travel, wedding planning, and family engagements my fiancé and I have had lately, it was nice to spend a weekend stayed put in our home. However, due to said "busyness" we coincidentally had no food in our kitchen. So we got to take a trip to the economy size food king, CostCo. Anyone that goes to these types of stores knows that the samples they hand out are the highlight of this experience. Every aisle you turn down, someones handing you a nibble of something. However, they are also giving you their sales pitch...which is what has inspired me for this blog post.

Buzz words in the food industry today include "gluten free", "all natural", and "organic" and everyone is shouting them. Food product manufactures really hone in on marketing tactics to sell their products, which includes boasting about their "good for you" ingredients and emphasizing, what sounds like, nutritional value. But what exactly do these terms mean? And how much water do these claims hold? Just because it sounds good doesn't mean its credible or valid.

Packaging for foods, like meat, poultry,and eggs may contain terms such as "free range," "natural," and "cage free," but these USDA terms do not imply a level of nutrition or health. They simply describe how the animal or plant is raised and/or grown prior to market, and in the case of "natural," how it is processed for sale. Each of the terms explained ...

Term

Definition

Grass Fed

Grass fed animals have constant access to pasture during the growing seasons and are not given grain or grain byproducts. Grass fed animals also can eat hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue without grain, and other roughage sources.

Free Range

This USDA designation means the poultry (raised for meat) has been allowed some access to the outdoors.

Cage Free

These laying hens live uncaged, typically within a barn, warehouse building, or other enclosed area. These hens are given continuous access to food and water and the freedom to roam within the enclosed area during their egg-production cycle.

Natural

Food with this definition does not contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative, or other artificial or synthetic ingredient, and the product and its ingredients are not more than minimally processed.

Organic

Foods that are classified as "organic" are produced by farmers using renewable resources and conservation efforts for soil and water, as a means to maintain the environment. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that were not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without the use of synthetic insecticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. In order for a food product to be classified as "organic," the farm must be inspected to ensure it is meeting the government regulations. Companies that handle the foods also must be certified that they meet the USDA's organic standards.

So don't be fooled by the sales persons pitch. Be an informed consumer and you'll be able to recognize a quality product when you see it.



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